On Aug. 24, it was announced by Case Western Reserve University that William “Bud” Baeslack would be resigning from his position at the end of this upcoming academic term, after serving for 10 years as provost and executive vice president.
As provost, it is Baeslack’s duty to oversee every aspect of university academics and research, working closely with President Barbara Snyder to both curate and encourage the potential of CWRU students. However, it is the appeal of student-teacher interaction, as well as his personal research in materials science, that Baeslack cites as his reason for pursuing a career supervising higher education.
“I feel it is time to return to the work that first drew me to higher education—teaching outstanding students and continuing materials research,” he said in an official statement with President Snyder, published in an article in The Daily on Aug. 24.
Before arriving at CWRU in 2008, Baeslack was an executive dean at The Ohio State University, where he had begun as an associate professor in 1982. Recognized by universities worldwide for his achievements in materials science in connection with the aerospace industry, Baeslack is also a fellow of ASM International.
Despite these achievements, it is his impact at CWRU and the lasting effects of his administration that shall be remembered with distinction by faculty and students alike. Students for generations to come shall generate ideas, interact with innovative materials and stumble upon new entrepreneurial prospects at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], which Baeslack launched in 2011.
The impact such establishments have on CWRU’s campus are highly significant: Griffin Saiia, who has worked at Think[box] for almost two years now, believes that places like think[box] can provide students with opportunities to interact with real-world problems.
“Working at think[box] has helped me to ground concepts that I learned in the classroom through the physical processes of actually making something,” he said. “I absolutely enjoy it, and it is my favorite thing about CWRU.”
Saiia goes on to mention that the enrichment offered by spaces like this will always have room to grow, thanks to the strong foundation upon which they were built.
“As think[box] grows,” he discussed, “it will start to encompass even more of the disciplines CWRU teaches. Right now, the facility is namely a sandbox for mechanical engineers because we have such a great fabrication level. As we expand, we will have more things for electrical engineers and for people interested in electronics, so more computer scientists can be included. It will make learning here a more physical experience for all disciplines.”
Baeslack also helped to found and initiate the Provost Scholars Program, a mentoring program for East Cleveland high school students in which 11 eighth- and ninth-graders are paired with members of CWRU faculty. The program focuses on promoting early college goals in young students, and encourages participants to believe in their own capabilities and explore various scientific fields.
At the launch of the program in 2013, Baeslack said, “[This program] is a way to get you directly involved with our professors and staff on campus, get into the laboratories and classrooms to both learn and have some fun.”
In addition, after heavy investment in admissions and the appointment of David Fleshler, CWRU’s campus-wide global efforts leader, the university has progressed significantly under Baeslack, both in numbers of students studying abroad and in application selectivity.
“Nearly every positive development we have seen on campus has emerged from people coming together around an idea or initiative, putting its success ahead of any individual acclaim,” Baeslack said of this progression. “I have been honored to work with such outstanding faculty, staff and students, and with a truly dedicated leadership team.”
President Snyder released a statement on Sept. 6 requesting nominations for committee members to assist in choosing the new provost. Individuals considered for the committee are required to possess the drive necessary to support CWRU’s progression in all areas of academia, and to encourage new possibilities for students and faculty alike.
“Finding an exceptional academic leader to serve as our next provost is key to our ability to realize those possibilities,” Snyder said in the statement. “…[Baeslack’s] tenure has been distinguished by dedication to our mission, support of our academic leaders, and commitment to enhancing the entire student experience…. “[I] know his team will profoundly miss his leadership.”