Leadership Updates within the Office of the Provost

May 24, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

As the summer begins and we work toward being back on campus this fall with our whole community, I am pleased to share some leadership updates within the Office of the Provost.

Interim Vice Provost for Research

The search for a vice provost for research is progressing well and on schedule. Search committee members have initiated the initial review of applications in the candidate vetting process. The committee will meet later this month to begin reducing the pool of applicants for further review and evaluation. This process will continue into the early summer. The search prospectus is available for review on Storbeck Search’s site, and the Leadership Searches page on the Provost site will continue to be updated through the search process.

While the search process continues, the Faculty Senate and several members of our research-active faculty have requested that an interim vice provost for research be installed as soon as possible. In response to this request, I am pleased to announce that Carla Berg, professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health and associate center director for population sciences and policy in the GW Cancer Center, will serve as interim vice provost for research. Her appointment is effective June 1, and she will serve for the months leading up to conclusion of the search.

Prior to arriving at GW in 2019, Dr. Berg was faculty in the school of public health at Emory University, where she also served as the associate director for population sciences in Emory’s NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. She has had considerable experience in fostering a range of multidisciplinary, inter-programmatic research through serving in a number of roles, including in leadership positions within large center grants and through service and involvement in departmental, school, and university committees at GW and Emory.

Dr. Berg also has established a program of collaborative, interdisciplinary research, broadly focused on chronic disease prevention, and has demonstrated success securing funding from the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute, Fogarty International Center), the Centers for Disease Control, and other funding sources. Her research team has produced over 230 peer-reviewed publications.

Overall, Dr. Berg’s track record demonstrates her commitment to working alongside colleagues to coordinate and enhance research supports and infrastructure in order to promote team science and strategic transdisciplinary collaborations. I look forward to Dr. Berg joining my senior leadership team and driving research and innovation at GW while we search for a permanent candidate. When you get a moment, please congratulate Dr. Berg on this appointment.

Interim Senior Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education

Last year, just before the start of the pandemic, I took the first steps in the Provost’s office to distribute the functions of the Deputy Provost role into two positions focused specifically on undergraduate education and graduate education. Although the transition of the Deputy Provost role was finalized, I decided that the Office would absorb those functions temporarily in an effort to reduce the need for further financial mitigation to the academic mission. With the start of the fiscal year, we are in the position to appoint a faculty member to serve in a role to support our undergraduate teaching and learning activities. I am very pleased to announce that Imani M. Cheers, associate director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, associate professor of media and public affairs, and associate professor of digital storytelling, will join the Office of the Provost as interim senior associate provost for undergraduate education, effective June 1.

As interim senior associate provost for undergraduate education, Dr. Cheers will be focused on enhancing the academic experience of undergraduates across the university. This includes developing and facilitating programs to improve student satisfaction and retention, student success, and the overall learning environment. In addition, Dr. Cheers will coordinate the review of programs and policies affecting undergraduate education and work with all of GW’s colleges and schools to create a dynamic learning environment and advance university priorities. Dr. Cheers will serve for a year in the interim role. Later this academic year, we will further evaluate the organization of the Provost’s Office before initiating a search for the permanent role.

Dr. Cheers joined GW in 2013, and in 2020, she became the first Black woman to serve as associate director of the School of Media and Public Affairs in the school’s 40-year history. She has held a number of other roles at GW that are geared toward improving the student experience. She co-founded “Sisters in the Academy” in 2018, a mentoring and support system for Black women students, faculty, and staff on campus; serves as director of academic adventures for Planet Forward; and serves as a faculty in residence at the Mount Vernon Campus. A number of awards and honors in teaching and research speak to her expertise in her field and her commitment to GW.

By touching all areas of the community through these various roles, Dr. Cheers has both a broad and deep knowledge of the university that will make her very effective in supporting undergraduate students in this role. I look forward to working with her. Please congratulate her on this role when you can.


M. Brian Blake
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs