1951-1959 - John P. Tilton
1959-1965 - Leonard Mead
1965-1973 - Albert Ullman
1973-1979 - Kathryn McCarthy
1979-1981 - Robert Shira
1981-2002 - Sol Gittleman
2002-2011 - Jamshed Bharucha
2011-2012 - Peggy Newell ad interim
2012-2018 - David R. Harris
2018-present - Deborah T. Kochevar ad interim
The office of the provost was created in 1951 after the retirement of George S. Miller from his posts of vice president and dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Tufts College.The American university was becoming more complex. The university president - whose responsibilities had traditionally been to lead the faculty, nurture the alumni, and control the student body - found himself spending more and more time off campus. It became clear that there was a need for an additional academic officer for complex institutions. Tufts, with a medical and dental school, an advanced school of international relations and a school of theology, needed strong internal management. This led to the creation of the newest position in the academic administration: the Provost.
After Miller's retirement, Tufts President Leonard Carmichael decided to further divide the responsibilities of the administration to coincide with the expansion of the College. The position of provost was created to assume the academic leadership and administrative duties covered by Miller when he was vice president, including oversight of faculty appointments and curriculum issues.
In 1953, after the original provost John P. Tilton was elected senior vice president, the position was renamed senior vice president and provost. The change in the title added control over not only the academic and financial affairs of the University, but also made the provost the immediate assistant to - and stand-in for - the president.
Tilton served from 1951 until his death in 1959. A month later, Leonard Mead, a psychologist, was named to the post, and served until 1965. Mead was succeeded by sociologist Albert Ullman, who held the position until 1973. After Ullman's retirement, Tufts named physicist Kathryn McCarthy to the position, making her Tufts' first female provost. When she stepped down in 1979 she was replaced by the retiring Dean of the School of Dental Medicine, Robert Shira.
Tufts conducted a nationwide search for Kathryn McCarthy's replacement and in 1981, named professor Sol Gittleman - the chair of the department of German and Russian languages - to the post. Gittleman, who had little knowledge of the downtown health science schools, happily accepted a truncated version of the Provost's position, as a new Vice President of Health Sciences had been created to oversee the School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine. Robert Levy was the first incumbent. He and Gittleman assumed their responsibilities on July 1, 1981. Levy, who had responsibilities for the Boston campus, was also Dean of the Medical School. After eighteen months, Levy resigned from both positions, and Gittleman assumed responsibility for the academic integrity of the entire university. The Provost's position would not again be diminished at Tufts.
After serving in the position for over 21 years - a tenure believed to be the longest in American higher education - Gittleman stepped down from this post in 2002. He continues to teach and pursue research at Tufts as University Professor.
In August 2002, Jamshed Bharucha assumed the post of provost and senior vice president at Tufts University. Bharucha is the former dean of faculty and the John Wentworth professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College. In July 2011, Bharucha left to become president of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Vice Provost Peggy Newell was appointed provost and senior vice president ad interim through June 2012.
On July 1, 2012, David R. Harris was appointed as provost and senior vice president at Tufts University. Prior to becoming Provost, Dr. Harris served as Senior Associate Dean, Deputy Provost, Vice Provost for Social Sciences, and Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. As Deputy Provost at Cornell he focused on a number of key Provost Office priorities, including academic planning, admissions and financial aid, and diversity. As Vice Provost for Social Sciences he was responsible for leading the development and implementation of university-wide efforts to enhance the social sciences, and for providing a social sciences perspective on Cornell policies and priorities. In April 2018, Deborah T. Kochevar was named provost and senior vice president ad interim.