Drexel has named M. Brian Blake, PhD, as the University’s next provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. Blake, who comes to Drexel from the University of Miami, where he is vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, will begin his new position on Aug. 1.
“No single role has more impact on Drexel’s core mission to prepare students for lives and careers of meaning, to foster research that addresses the challenges of our age and to build an academic enterprise that engages with and reflects the society we serve,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Dr. Blake brings an inspiring vision for an agile, experiential, global form of education, honed in a variety of leadership roles at three of the nation’s best private research universities. He is also an outstanding researcher, teacher and engineer.”
Drexel will look to Blake to create a unified, interdisciplinary academic environment that encourages innovative teaching and research for the benefit of its students, community and society. The University has spent considerable time and energy aligning its resources to support academic priorities including student retention, faculty growth, global reach and eventually a state-of-the-art research infrastructure. Blake will provide the leadership that makes those goals into reality.
During his career, Blake has worked at the department, college and provost level with responsibilities including research, instruction and faculty affairs. At the University of Miami, his position as vice provost for academic affairs involves faculty enhancement efforts university-wide in addition to advocating and setting policy for research programs in the disciplines on Miami’s Coral Gables campus — these include arts and sciences, business, communication, education, engineering, law, nursing and more. He also leads task forces that assess faculty recruitment efforts and the university climate in regards to diversity for both students and faculty, in addition to efforts to balance the engagements of tenured and non-tenure-track faculty. With support from a group of graduate student leaders, he oversaw the creation of the “Research Intersections” forum for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to share their work with each other and pursue interdisciplinary research.
As dean of the University of Miami’s Graduate School, Blake oversees more than 160 graduate programs in 12 schools and colleges (including the Miller School of Medicine) serving more than 5,700 students, with an overall tuition-based budget of approximately $73 million managed at the responsibility center level. Under his leadership, Miami has established first-of-their-kind interdisciplinary graduate programs across its three campuses, and launched graduate initiatives in China, Italy, Jamaica and Spain. He also leads development of the Distinction and Diversity initiative for graduate education and research, with goals including enhanced research outcomes for students and junior faculty, elevated visibility for graduate education and leveraging the diversity of the university’s programs and community.
Blake previously was associate dean for research and graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, overseeing programs in the College of Engineering that grew enrollment by more than 30 percent and doubled research awards and expenditures. Before that, he served as department chair and graduate studies director for computer science at Georgetown University. He has held a tenured faculty appointment and directed an active research lab in computer science at each institution, with his work focused on adaptive workflow for web-based services and applications. Before beginning his academic career he was a software engineer and architect for Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and The MITRE Corporation. In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech, he Blake holds a master’s degree from Mercer University and his PhD from George Mason University.
He is married to Bridget Blake, a mechanical engineering graduate from Georgia Tech who has an MBA from Johns Hopkins. She works remotely for The MITRE Corporation based in Washington, DC. They have two sons, Brendan (10) and Bryce (3).
In a message to the Drexel community announcing the new provost, Fry thanked James D. Herbert, PhD, who served as the University’s interim provost and the search committee —chaired by John A. Rich, MD, a professor at Drexel’s School of Public Health—for their “hard work and thorough approach to one of the most important hires a university can make.”