Two new deputy provost roles join student affairs


Lehigh’s Provost Office is adding two deputy provost positions under academic affairs. 

Jennifer O’Brien-Knotts will be Lehigh’s new vice provost for academic systems and services, and Terry-Ann Jones will be deputy provost for undergraduate education. 

Provost Nathan Urban said these administrative changes were made to better the academic experience at Lehigh.  

Urban said a big reason they chose O’Brien-Knotts was because of her deep understanding of technology, and Jones was appointed based on her previous experience with interdisciplinary programs.

“It made sense to put the faculty focus (and) the more academic focus under a faculty member, and then the more systems and technical aspects of it under somebody who had that kind of background,” Urban said.

Urban said as provost he oversees all the academic programs, faculty members, department chairs and deans. All academic programs report to him, meaning he wants to ensure every student and faculty member is academically productive.

He said the office wanted to elevate the functionality of every aspect of Lehigh — whether it be registering for classes or creating new programs that span across the colleges.

Jones, previously the director of Africana Studies and political science professor, said she has always been engaged with interdisciplinary programs, and she understands the student perspective of pursuing an interdisciplinary education, so this new position suits her well.

“Students are really eager to go beyond the confines of their disciplines,” Jones said. 

Urban said he wants to find new ways to allow students to fully take advantage of all the classes and resources that Lehigh offers, which is something these new provost roles will enable.

“We’re always looking to try and make things work better,” Urban said. “We want to just work well for people, for students, for families, and for faculty and staff.”

O’Brien-Knotts said she wants her new role to focus on better serving students, faculty, staff and parents. 

Her new role is an expansion of her old position as assistant vice provost for enrollment services. Now she manages admissions technology,  admissions support systems and the registrar’s office.

O’Brien-Knotts said her past experiences have led her to this position. She said her knowledge of the functional and technical side of technology will allow her to help the Lehigh community better interact with vital technology, such as Banner and the Self-Service pages.

She hopes to create innovative systems that will allow staff members to engage in stimulating work, while letting computers complete smaller tasks.

“I really want to make sure we’re doing things more efficiently, automating where we can and letting folks use their brains and not doing the same rote thing over and over again,” O’Brien-Knotts said. “Just really elevating what we’re doing and (who we’re) serving.”

Jones said she is excited to work on being more equitable when it comes to advising and retention at Lehigh. 

She said her new role focuses on improving all things related to undergraduate education.

“I want to provide better advising services, increase retention rates and improve graduation rates,” Jones said. “I would like to ensure that we’re doing this for all students, not just one subset of students.”

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