As of July 1, Dr. Matthias Vorwerk is officially the provost for the University of Dallas.
Vorwerk hails from Europe. Born and raised in Detmold, Germany, Vorwerk attended college at the University of Munster where he graduated with a Ph.D. in classics and philosophy in 1998.
He continued to work at the university for about two years on a research project and in 2001, he received a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to do research in Dublin, Ireland. Spending two years in Dublin, he became a research fellow at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.
In 2003, Vorwerk was offered a position as an assistant professor of philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he later received tenure. In 2009, he was promoted to associate professor and in 2011, he was appointed associate dean of the school of philosophy. He served in that capacity through this June, when he came to UD to become provost.
The Provost is the chief academic officer of the university and oversees all academic and student life programs and recruits and develops faculty and staff. Other responsibilities are promoting the vision of the university and directing matters of curriculum and student affairs.
“We were looking for somebody who was devoted as a scholar and a professor, to be into the education that we provide, somebody with a with a clear record of prudential excellence and somebody who would lead, particularly the academic side of the university, but also the Student Life side, because the dean of students reports to the provost, as well,” said Dr. Jonathan Sanford, president of UD.
It’s no small job, but Vorwerk is no stranger to the mission of UD, having been co-chair of a committee tasked to design a new liberal arts curriculum for The Catholic University of America.
Speaking about the experience, Vorwerk said: “We looked at different models and one of the most prominent liberal arts models is the one of the University of Dallas. So we studied that carefully, and I really acquired a great sense of appreciation for the University of Dallas and its strong curriculum.”
When someone suggested Vorwerk apply for the open provost position, there was little hesitation in his decision. “[We had lived] for almost twenty years in Washington,” said Vorwerk. “Our youngest is just finishing up high school, so in a way, it [was] a good time to make a change.”
When asked what he looks forward to in his new role, Vorwerk said, “[I’m excited] to be part of this great tradition that the university has of championing a strong liberal arts education and the Catholic intellectual tradition. I really find that inspiring. I think President Sanford has developed an ambitious, strategic plan to move the university forward and establish it as the premier Catholic liberal arts university in the country. That’s an exciting plan to be supporting and to be part of.”
There are a number of tasks at hand. The university has been undergoing significant changes in leadership over the past few years. Currently, the office of the provost is conducting a search for a new dean of the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business.
Speaking of the search, Vorwerk said: “We want to strengthen the business school and integrate it more into the general framework of our university so that it better reflects our character as a Catholic liberal arts institution. This will also make it more distinctive compared to other programs in the area here.”
Vorwerk is also grateful for the support of the UD community. “I’m very pleased about the friendly welcome that’s been extended to me at the university,” said Vorwerk. “I have wonderful colleagues and staff in my office that have helped me to settle in and find my way around. It’s a small place, but there are lots of people to get to know as well as structures and procedures.”
Vorwerk will also be teaching a Philosophy & Ethics class next spring semester, which he is very much looking forward to. He said: “Not all administrators are simply administrators. Many of us are faculty members and started out as faculty members. We all love to go back to the classroom. I don’t know whether I would want to have a job where I didn’t have an opportunity to teach at least occasionally. I’m looking forward to meeting and getting to know the students.”