By Benny Smith
Brandon Schwab, Western Carolina University’s associate provost for academic affairs and a tenured professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources, has been appointed as the vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Illinois Springfield in Springfield, Illinois. UIS officials made the announcement Tuesday, June 6, and the appointment will be effective July 17.
“I have really enjoyed my tenure at Western Carolina University and the opportunities I have had to collaborate with and make strong impacts for faculty, staff and students here,” Schwab said. “I was able to lead a lot of great work at WCU, including developing a promotion pathway for non-tenured track faculty and partnering with others to advance undergraduate research opportunities and strengthen bonds between undergraduate and graduate student research.”
Schwab came to WCU in 2014 as the university’s associate provost for academic affairs. He also served as the acting executive director of the Division of Educational Outreach for half of 2020 and was a tenured professor.
Schwab rose through the faculty ranks to become a tenured professor and chair of geology at Humboldt State University (now Humboldt Polytechnic) in Arcata, California. Understanding how impactful engagement in research was in his own development, he built his research agenda around undergraduate students. He was awarded a fellowship to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution and is a big proponent of professional development, both his own and for others.
Richard Starnes, WCU provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said WCU will miss Schwab’s leadership.
“Brandon has been a critical leader in many key areas in Academic Affairs including curriculum, the tenure and promotion process, faculty credentialing and accreditation,” Starnes said. “He is a focused, thoughtful and kind leader. This is an outstanding opportunity for him and I know he will bring the same energy and dedication to the University of Illinois Springfield that he has shown in his nine years at WCU. We will miss him and wish him every success.”
In addition, while at WCU Schwab worked with faculty and others to reform academic program development and review processes and co-founded an equity-advocate program for faculty search committees, as well as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Community of Practice. He also shepherded the approval of more than a dozen new academic program offerings at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels and helped establish the University Research Council to elevate and support scholarly and creative activities across the institution.
Schwab is a first-generation college graduate who grew up in rural north central Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a doctorate in geological sciences from the University of Oregon.
After Schwab’s departure, Starnes will immediately initiate a search for the associate provost for academic affairs position.