The U of C announced Friday that it has appointed David Fithian to the new position of secretary of the University. Fithian, currently secretary and associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) at Harvard University, will serve as the primary liaison to the Board of Trustees and have a role in governing the University, according to David Greene, vice president for Strategic Initiatives.
“At the University of Chicago, I hope to be able to support President Zimmer’s efforts to strengthen channels of communication with members of the Board of Trustees and to assist the chairman of the Board and its members in preparing for discussions and deliberations of a range of topics, including long-range strategic planning,” Fithian said.
Fithian will be working closely with the Board of Trustees and will have an important role in shaping University policies, Greene said. His duties will include ensuring that University initiatives are presented to the Board of Trustees at the right time and guaranteeing the soundness of University policies.
Fithian said he hopes to ensure that the Board’s meetings run effectively and to enhance the Board’s knowledge and understanding of the issues it deliberates.
“When the position of secretary of the University is functioning well, we will have better engagement with the Board of Trustees, and we will be able to make decisions more effectively,” Greene said.
The new position is based on similar ones at other universities and will expand on the U of C’s tradition of strong support for the Board of Trustees, Fithian said.
Greene said he had heard about Fithian’s work at Harvard and contacted him about the position. Upon hearing of the opening, Fithian expressed a great interest in it, according to Greene.
“The job itself presents challenges and opportunities that I believe draw on my experience at the same time that I will clearly be confronted by whole new problems to solve and issues to address,” Fithian said.
Fithian began working at Harvard in 1995 and was appointed associate dean of FAS in 2003 and secretary of FAS in 2004.
While at Harvard, Fithian worked on both the Administrative Board of Harvard College and on the Faculty Board, along with teaching classes. He graduated with a B.A. from Clark University in 1987 and went on to receive an M.A., an M.Phil, and a Ph.D. at Yale University.
“I think he really will do a terrific job,” Greene said. “He has a great touch.”