Jayanth R. Banavar is provost and senior vice president of the University of Oregon. As the chief academic officer, Banavar serves as guardian of the university’s academic excellence, working with faculty and staff members, students, and other stakeholders to ensure the university maintains the highest-possible quality of scholarly activity and educational programs.
A distinguished physicist, Banavar joined the UO on July 1, 2017, coming from the University of Maryland where he was dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Before his dean appointment in 2011, Banavar led the Department of Physics at Pennsylvania State University for 12 years. Much of his recent work has applied the techniques of statistical physics to solve interdisciplinary problems, explaining, for example, why biological molecules tend to curl up into helices, or why coral reefs support such rich biodiversity. Frequently, the goal has been to identify an underlying mathematical principle to provide an elegant explanation of natural phenomena.
A fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has more than 250 publications in refereed journals, 11 book chapters, a book he co-edited, and three patents.
Banavar received a bachelor of science with honors and a master of science in physics from Bangalore University. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh.
As the chief academic officer for the university, the provost provides leadership for matters that affect academic programs, research, and outreach involving faculty members, students, and staff members. The provost oversees the quality of programs of instruction and research through collaborative work with vice presidents, academic deans, vice provosts, and numerous other units related to the university. Additionally, the provost is responsible for overseeing academic and budgetary planning and priorities.
The provost helps ensure the quality of the faculty by providing leadership in matters related to faculty appointments and promotions, working conditions, and tenure. The provost also works to ensure the quality of student learning by overseeing the curriculum and encouraging and coordinating initiatives in undergraduate education. The provost also coordinates recruiting and admissions for undergraduate and graduate programs.
The provost is accountable to the president of the university and, in his or her absence, acts on behalf of the president. As chief academic officer, the provost serves as the spokesperson for academic matters at the university.