Hanlon balanced administrative duties with teaching

Since becoming a faculty member at the University of Michigan in 1986, President-elect Philip Hanlon '77, has impressed students and colleagues with his dedication to balancing teaching and administrative duties.

Hanlon began teaching mathematics at Michigan in 1986. He achieved full professor status in 1990 and was named the D.J. Lewis Professor of Mathematics in 2001. That year, Hanlon took on his first administrative post at Michigan, when he became the associate dean for planning and finance for the College of Literature, Science and Arts, which includes Michigan's mathematics department. He was named associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs in 2004 and vice provost in 2007. He assumed his current positions in 2010.


As provost, Hanlon advocated for interdisciplinary education, between departments as well as among the various schools and colleges at Michigan, according to Michigan Vice Provost Martha Pollack '79, another Dartmouth graduate.

"[Hanlon] is very interested in giving students opportunities to engage in big interdisciplinary problems."

Working with Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, Hanlon developed the Third Century Initiative, a $50 million, five-year plan to develop multidisciplinary approaches to learning at Michigan.

As part of the Third Century Initiative, Hanlon helped the engineering school launch a two-year M-Cubed program, which awards faculty members $20,000 to collaborate on a project with colleagues from different schools or colleges, according to Michigan Dean of Engineering David Munson.

"This really is an enormous project, and I think it's going to be quite a success," Munson said. "The fact that it launched is partly a testament to Hanlon. No other university has a program like this."

In 2011, Hanlon led an initiative to change the tenure process at Michigan, increasing the number of required teaching years for tenure from eight years to 10.


Hanlon worked extensively with Michigan's budget in his time as provost, according to Pollack. In 2011, state appropriations fell by $47.5 million, and over the last 11 years, state appropriations have decreased by a total of $178 million in inflation adjusted dollars.

Hanlon has worked hard to help the university thrive despite these cuts, Pollack said.

"He's been at the forefront of getting us to have a culture of fiscal discipline," she said. "He's really focused on new initiatives to cut costs from building maintenance and operations, not academic programming."

Hanlon asked deans to pool their maintenance budgets to allow for a $90 million renovation of one school's building every two years instead, Pollack said. Hanlon has also looked for ways to streamline the university's procurement process by standardizing purchases across campus as a way to bring down costs.

Since 2004, the office has eliminated $235 million in recurring costs and is on track to save another $120 million by 2017 through changes to its retiree health benefits, energy consumption and central information technology units, according to the provost office's website. These cost-saving measures allowed Michigan to continue hiring and pursuing new programs, Whitman said.

Hanlon also encouraged deans to prioritize their resources and phase out or remodel older programs, according to Michigan Law School Dean Caminker.

"[Hanlon] has been very good about finding ways to help encourage deans and other leaders to be vigilant and do a good job of planning with their resources," he said. Dean of Libraries Paul Courant, who hired Hanlon as vice provost in 2004 said that Hanlon is very adept at explaining the budget process to administrators and to the Board of Regents.

"He was a very good teacher, good at simplifying complicated budgets and how they add up," he said.


In cutting the budget, Hanlon worked hard to keep students' tuition costs from rising, Pollack said. For the 2012-2013 school year, in-state tuition for undergraduate students rose 2.8 percent, and out-of-state tuition rose 3.5 percent, marking the second-smallest tuition increase for undergraduates at Michigan in the last 26 years.

Hanlon has also worked hard to increase the diversity of out-of-state attendees by making sure that financial aid is currently available to all students, according to Pollack. University-backed financial aid is at an historic high of $144.8 million for this year. Hanlon's dedication to making the university affordable was a priority during his time as vice provost, Courant said.

"We have a policy at Michigan that has been effective for quite some time to keep financial aid held harmless against tuition increases," Courant said. "[Hanlon] has been extremely active in implementing that policy."


Hanlon tried to maintain transparency in the budgeting process and was successful in considering the views of faculty, administrators and students in the provost office's work, according to Pollack.

As vice provost, Hanlon organized a student budget committee to meet once a month with the vice provost and provost, Pollack said. T

"We talk about what we are doing for cost maintenance, merit salary programs and tuition," Pollack said. "This was [Hanlon's] idea to get student feedback and to have them give us advice about whatever is on their minds."

Hanlon has also planned town halls meetings specifically geared for students, Pollack said. In his time as provost, he organized about six of these meetings per year, she said.

Michigan senior and student government president Manish Parikh said that these meetings are an effective way to reach out to students, and he called Hanlon "precise and sharp."

"[Hanlon] is perhaps among the most admired, respected and loved administrators on campus," Parikh said.

Omar Hashwi, a senior at Michigan and the student body vice president, said that students have approved of Hanlon's budgetary adjustmentsin response to the decrease in state appropriations.

"We've had tough economic times, and we really give him credit for what he's done to push us through that," Hashwi said.

Caminker said that Hanlon meets with the deans from Michigan's 19 schools and colleges at least once a month, and often much more frequently for private meetings.

"In all our dealings, he listened very carefully and gave me a fair opportunity to make my views known," Caminker said. "That manner of professional style is critically important for an effective administrator in higher education, where you power comes from your colleagues' trust for your judgment."


Even while he took on increasingly higher administrative roles at Michigan, Hanlon continued to teach undergraduates throughout his tenure. Since 2001, he has taught classes in the mathematics department and advised graduate students completing dissertations in his research area. This fall, he is teaching two classes , introductory calculus for freshmen and college affordability.

Sarah Rundell, a former PhD student whom Hanlon advised, recalled Hanlon's dedication to all aspects of the university in her five years studying with him.

"At the time, he was already associate provost, but he was still interested in taking on students," Rundell said. "I'm so grateful for that because he was really a phenomenal advisor." Hanlon has always been very committed to his students in the classroom, according to Pollack who has worked closely with Hanlon for over a decade and is teaching the course on college affordability with Hanlon this fall.

"He's very committed to academic excellence and undergraduate education," Pollack said.

Notably, Hanlon helped the Michigan School of Education gain the funding it needed to overhaul its curriculum, partnering with local schools to give novice teachers a setting to gain experience teaching minority and low-income children, according to Education School Dean Deborah Ball.

"He's used the provost's role at this university to focus on preparing undergraduate and graduate students to go out and solve the world's most pressing problems whether that's K-12 education, sustainability or issues in medical training," Ball said.


Although Hanlon was not directly involved with student life, he is committed to diversity and student welfare, Pollack said.

"He is a remarkably thoughtful person and cares deeply about the students and faculty that he works with."

Michigan Dean of Students Laura Jones said that Hanlon has been very supportive of the Student Affairs Office's work in his time as provost.

"He demonstrated to me a strong understanding of complex student life issues that we are grappling with and how we have to address them in a comprehensive approach," Jones said.

Jones said that Hanlon had been instrumental in helping her office receive funding to expand its mental health services for students.


The role of College president will force Hanlon to become more involved in external affairs of university operations such as fundraising, and to concentrate less on internal workings like academic programming and budgeting, a change he has already acknowledged in accepting the position at Dartmouth.

Hanlon's expertise in academic programming and budgeting make him a particularly good choice for president, because "his eye is entirely on the ball for what goes into academic excellence and research," according to Courant.

Ball said that Hanlon's long engagement with undergraduate teaching made him a strong choice as well.

"You guys really lucked out," Ball said. "We're all very sad that he's leaving."

In his time at the university, Hanlon has been an ardent fan of the Michigan Wolverines, Pollack said. He attends every Michigan football game to cheer for the maize and blue, she said.

"It's going to be a different experience for him, leaving the biggest football stadium in the country," Pollack said. "But I don't think he'll have too much trouble switching back to his Dartmouth green."

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