Marie Lynn Miranda
, who has spent the last four years of a distinguished academic career serving as Rice University’s Howard R. Hughes provost, has announced she is stepping down from her leadership post at the end of June.
Miranda cited a family illness as the reason for her decision. She plans to take a sabbatical during the 2019-20 academic year, then return to her faculty position in the Department of Statistics.
“While I have found great joy in serving the university, my family requires more of my attention …” she wrote in a statement to colleagues.
President David Leebron gratefully acknowledged Miranda’s contributions to the university.
“Provost Miranda has contributed enormously to Rice’s success and vision over the past four years, from improving processes in the provost’s office to envisioning and implementing strategic investments in faculty and academic facilities,” Leebron said. “We are a better and more diverse university as the result of her efforts, and we’ll continue to build on the foundations she has established.”
Miranda emphasized the importance of the collaborative work of faculty, staff and students as the critical ingredient in a series of the university’s accomplishments during her time as provost.
“In the past four years,” she wrote, “together we have elevated the bench of academic leaders, strengthened and diversified the faculty, improved the experience and outcomes for students from low-resource backgrounds, fostered greater excellence in graduate education, developed and implemented plans around strategic priorities, enhanced both teaching and laboratory spaces across campus and achieved reaffirmation by SACSCOC.” (SACSCOC is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional accrediting body for higher learning institutions in Southern states).
During that time, Rice has hired 114 tenured or tenured track faculty and promoted or tenured 86 others. The number of graduate students receiving major national awards grew by 64% between 2014 and 2018. Research funding has also grown substantially.
Miranda also teamed with Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby and the Crisis Management Team to guide the university during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. After the storm, Miranda played a key role in establishing the Hurricane Harvey Registry, which surveys survivors to help design intervention programs and help officials refine their responses to future disasters, a goal in line with Rice’s Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade.
Miranda’s leadership role in the Hurricane Harvey Registry project dovetails with her background as a researcher in environmental health, especially how the environment affects the health and well-being of children. She is the founding director of the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, a research, education and outreach program committed to fostering environments where all people can prosper. Miranda is also an adjunct professor of pediatrics at Duke University and Baylor College of Medicine.
Miranda is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Duke University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics and was named a Truman Scholar. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree, both in economics, from Harvard University, where she also held a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Miranda served on the faculty at Duke for 21 years, from 1990-2011, and then as dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan for four years.
During her years as Rice’s provost, Miranda also supported the university’s growing international engagement. Hosted by the Rice 360º Institute for Global Health, she traveled to Malawi to meet with doctors and nurses who are saving the lives of newborn babies with medical equipment designed by Rice engineering faculty and students. Her own research program has led her to work in Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Sweden.
“I am grateful on a daily basis for the opportunity to be part of the Rice community,” she wrote.
An interim provost will be appointed soon and a search committee will be formed to begin the process of finding Rice’s next provost, Leebron said.