Vice provost Brian Blake to leave for Drexel University

M. Brian Blake, the vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, will be leaving the University of Miami to be the provost of Drexel University. His terms begins Aug. 1.

Blake oversees graduate degree programs across 11 schools and colleges that enroll more than 5,200 graduate students each year. He joined the UM staff in July 2012 and has also served as a professor of computer science, electrical and computer engineering and human genetics.

“Our family will truly miss daily life at the U, but we do plan to keep our lifelong friendships,” Blake said. “From a professional perspective, the decision to move is bittersweet and more reflects my desire to help craft a narrative much like President Shalala at an institution like Drexel.”

Drexel President John A. Fry looks forward to seeing Blake join the staff, according to an official university statement posted on Drexel’s website.

“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 wrote. “He is also an outstanding researcher, teacher and engineer.”

Additionally, Blake has been leading the Task Force to Address Black Students’ Concerns, created by President Donna E. Shalala as a result of the negative backlash after a Black Lives Matter protest in fall 2014.

Made up of students and faculty, the task force has been evaluating UM’s diversity and how it compares to other universities. On May 15, the task force will release a report with recommendations that can be implemented at UM.

Students, such as senior Mischael Cetoute, who have worked with Blake in the task force, regard him as a “tremendous resource for students.”

Since his sophomore year, Cetoute has worked with Blake and says “his successor will have fairly large shoes to fill.”

“Ever since we began working on the task force, I’ve been able to see more of his personality and I think his humility and amicable temperament are his most defining features,” Cetoute said.

On the task force, Cetoute has noticed how Blake’s leadership has been incredibly helpful to accomplishing their goals.

“Throughout the entire process, he’s been fairly deliberate about students speaking up, getting the answers to our questions and in general having a very active role in shaping the outcomes of the task force,” he said.

Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc also recognizes Blake for his impact at the university.

“As dean of the graduate school, he has been a prominent spokesperson for the role of graduate education, the quality of graduate programs and for the interests of graduate students. As vice provost for academic affairs, he has led efforts to strengthen and diversify the faculty and to train the next generation of academic leaders,” LeBlanc said. “He leaves the University of Miami stronger for his efforts, and we all wish him well in his new role as provost.”