New provost at Clark: Davis Baird takes top academic position

Baird formally began work at the University on August 16. He was previously Dean of the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina, where he also held the Louise Fry Scudder Professorship in Philosophy. At Clark University, he will oversee all undergraduate and graduate academic programs, as well as student affairs, University research, University libraries, and the Registrar’s office.

“Davis Baird’s exceptional record of accomplishment and his stature as a scholar and innovative administrator are terrific additions to the University,” Angel said. “I expect his leadership will have a lasting impact on academic life at Clark and on the University as a whole. Davis brings to Clark a deep commitment to liberal education, academic excellence, and cutting-edge scholarship that will serve us well now and in the future.” 

Baird succeeds President Angel, who served as Clark provost for more than six years before being named Clark’s ninth president. Presidential Inauguration events are scheduled from Sept. 21-24.

Baird graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy from Brandeis University and master’s and doctoral degrees in the philosophy of science from Stanford University. He joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1982 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in the Department of Philosophy in 2001. Baird served as Chair of the Department of Philosophy from 1992-2005 and was appointed Dean of the South Carolina Honors College in 2005. The South Carolina Honors College is a 1,300-student, liberal-arts-inspired college located within the larger research university. 

“I am honored and privileged to be appointed as Clark’s new Provost,” Baird said. “From the first I learned of this position I have been excited and inspired by Clark’s mission as a small liberal arts research university.

“I have always believed that research is essential to the life of higher education, while at the same time, I have always held a deep commitment to a liberal arts education,” Baird added.  “I am particularly keen to help Clark develop and implement its ‘Liberal Education and Effective Practice’ (or LEEP) initiative. Understanding in theory and in practice how the liberal arts can be put to work to solve our pressing problems is the key to our future success.”

Baird’s background and training are in the philosophy of science. He is the author and editor of numerous articles and books including, “Thing Knowledge: A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments”   (University of California Press, 2004) and “Nanotechnology Challenges: Implications for Philosophy, Ethics and Society” (World Scientific Publishers, 2006). His most recent work focuses on the societal and ethical issues associated with nanotechnology. To pursue this work, Professor Baird put together an inter-disciplinary team of researchers spanning ten academic departments and secured in excess of $5 million in external funding from the National Science Foundation and other organizations.

Baird is joined in Worcester by his spouse Deanna Leamon, who is a professional artist.

Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty lead a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offer a range of expertise, particularly in the areas of psychology, geography, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.  

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