UM provost to step down, second top leader to be leaving the U

University of Miami Provost Jeffrey Duerk will step down from his administrative role in July, becoming the second of six executive vice presidents to exit the top ranks of the largest private university in South Florida this summer.

UM President Julio Frenk sent an email to employees and others on Monday breaking the news: “I write to inform you of an important development in the executive leadership team.”

After six years, Duerk will leave his executive post as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, take a one-year sabbatical starting July 1 and then return as a full-time faculty member.

UM paid Duerk a salary of $898,588, plus $48,994 in other compensation, for a total compensation of $947,582, according to UM”s 2019 990 tax form, the latest form posted on Guidestar, the nonprofit that tracks financial information at schools and universities.

Frenk didn’t elaborate about the move in his email and UM did not make available either Frenk or Duerk for a Herald interview. Jacqueline Menendez, a university spokeswoman, didn’t answer questions about Duerk’s impending departure, and Duerk did not respond to a Herald email sent directly to him.

FROM 2022: UM hires a CEO as professors fight for raises

Last year, UM, with about 19,000 students and 17,000 employees, hired a CEO, a move that riled the faculty over bringing in a highly paid administrator when professors are struggling to get raises amid higher costs of living in South Florida. Joe Echevarria, the former CEO of UHealth, UM’s medical arm, started as CEO last June. Colleges and universities normally do not have a CEO; they have presidents, provosts, vice presidents and boards of trustees.

UM did not disclose Echevarria’s salary when he was hired and the latest Guidestar postings do not include 2022 data.

Frenk’s total compensation added up to about $1.75 million, according to UM’s 2019 tax form posted on Guidestar.

READ MORE: Top UM executive is heading to this North Carolina university

Another top UM leader is leaving

In late March, Frenk announced Jacqueline Travisano, UM’s executive vice president for business and finance and its chief operating officer since June 2017, was leaving. Travisano will leave at the end of June to become executive vice president and chief financial officer at Wake Forest University, a private institution with about 9,000 students in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In early April, Travisano told the Herald the Wake Forest position seemed “thrilling” and moving there was always her “long-term plan,” as her husband is a licensed general contractor in North Carolina and they own property there.

What’s next?

Frenk said he looked forward “to a seamless transition this summer” but didn’t mention any transitional plans.

“We will take a thoughtful approach to the succession process and will keep faculty members, trustees, and the rest of our community informed about major decisions,” he wrote.

UM still hasn’t publicly named Travisano’s replacement.

Duerk first arrived at UM in July 2017. He succeeded Thomas LeBlanc, who became the president of George Washington University in Washington. LeBlanc left that job in December 2021.

Duerk had been on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University, a private university in Cleveland since 1988. He served as dean of the School of Engineering from 2012 to 2017.

An inventor, Duerk earned his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s in the same at Ohio State University. He then received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Case Western in 1987.

Duerk’s legacy at UM

In his role, Duerk oversaw all schools and colleges. He supervised 14 deans, four vice provosts, two associate provosts, a vice president and eight center and institute directors, according to a chart posted online.

Last week, the law school at Florida International University surpassed UM’s in national rankings for the first time ever.

In his Monday note, Frenk said Duerk “led the faculty through various natural disasters and the pandemic.”

“Indeed, it was the work Jeff prompted early in his time at the U to ensure the continuity of our academic mission following Hurricane Irma that set us up for success during the COVID-19 emergency,” he added.

RELATED: Check out photos from UM’s graduation this spring 2023

Under Duerk, UM established 97 new endowed chairs and launched new degrees, including its first three-year baccalaureate degree and one-year accelerated degrees in software engineering and computer science, Frenk said.

During Duerk’s tenure, UM also opened the Frost Institute for Chemistry and Molecular Science, the Institute for Data Science and Computing, the Climate Resilience Academy, the Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK) and the Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (PETAL).