Charles Lee Isbell Jr. was named the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s next provost in a press release from the university Monday afternoon.
Isbell succeeds John Karl Scholz, who accepted the position of president at the University of Oregon in March. Isbell will become the second-ranked university leader under Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin on Aug. 1.
Eric Wilcots, dean of UW-Madison’s College of Letters and Sciences, is currently serving as the university’s interim provost.
Isbell — the current dean of the College of Computing at Georgia Tech — researches machine learning and artificial intelligence in a field he describes as “interactive artificial intelligence” on his academic webpage. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1990, attained his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AI Lab in 1998 and eventually returned to Georgia Tech for research after several years in industry.
Outside of computing and university administration, Isbell created an online Black History database. He also reviews hip-hop and funk music on his personal website, plays ultimate frisbee and reads sci-fi comics.
“Throughout my academic career, I have been focused on research and educational reform,” Isbell said in the UW-Madison press release. “I am a strong believer that higher education must play a vital role in creating opportunities for deep engagement in what it means to be an active and productive member of society.”
Mnookin expressed excitement towards working with Isbell and collaborating with him on campus projects. She also noted Isbell’s work and advocacy for making STEM and higher education more accessible.
“I am tremendously excited to welcome Dr. Isbell to my leadership team and our community,” Mnookin said in the university’s release. “In addition to his exceptional credentials as a scholar, he is an experienced and effective administrator, a skilled collaborator and an advocate for access to STEM and higher education.”
The announcement comes just days after the groundbreaking ceremony for UW-Madison’s new School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences (CDIS) building, Isbell’s area of expertise.
Noe Goldhaber is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in campus and state news reporting.