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Gilchrist and Harik named to high-level posts

Sept. 4, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn has named two longtime members of the faculty and administration to fill upper-level administrative posts.

Dr. Bassam Harik has been named interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. James Gilchrist has been named vice provost for academic operations and chief information officer for the University. Both appointments are effective immediately and were made pending approval by the WMU board of Trustees.

"I learned quickly that Dr. Harik is a skilled administrator with an excellent understanding of the university, its history, culture and internal workings," said Dunn in announcing his decision to the campus community. "I have found his counsel and insight extremely valuable, particularly during this time of transition."

Harik replaces Dr. Janet I. Pisaneschi, who retired at the end of June. He will serve as the chief academic officer for WMU while the University conducts a nationwide search for a new provost.

Harik has served for the past year as vice provost for budget and personnel. A member of the economics faculty since 1979, he has served as department chair and, from 2004 to 2006, as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Harik's areas of expertise include money and banking and economic development. During his tenure, he coordinated research that produced three studies detailing WMU's economic impact on Kalamazoo County.

Harik earned a bachelor's degree from the American University of Beirut in 1970 and master's and doctoral degrees from Wayne State University in 1973 and 1978, respectively.

Gilchrist replaces Viji Murali, vice president for information technology and CIO, who left WMU earlier this month to accept a new position at Washington State University. Gilchrist has served as vice provost for academic operations for the past year, and he will retain that position and add the duties of CIO to that role.

"This decision was based on several factors, including consultation and input from others and the universal high respect for Dr. Gilchrist and his overall leadership ability," Dunn said of Gilchrist's appointment to oversee the University's information technology services.

A member of the WMU faculty since 1980, from 1993 to 1999, Gilchrist served as chair of the Department of Communication--now the School of Communication. He served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2000 to 2005 and for more than a year during that time, he was project manager and responsible for the University's implementation of a new student information system. In 2005, he was named director of student academic and institutional research. In that new role, he continued direction and development of the student information system, and added responsibility for supporting assessment initiatives and overseeing all institutional research.

Gilchrist is a specialist in organizational communication and communication ethics. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Oklahoma State University in 1970 and 1972, respectively, and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas-Austin in 1980.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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