Marie Lynn Miranda has many insights to share about her life, career path and leadership style. She’s also known for sharing her delicious home-baked treats with colleagues in the Main Building.
Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University of Notre Dame, touched on these topics and more during an interactive conversation Dec. 1 hosted by the Thrive! Inspiring ND Women employee resource group. The Thrive! Professional Development and Networking Committee, along with the THRIVE! board and steering committee, organized the event.
According to Miranda, the first woman and first person of color to serve as Notre Dame’s provost, she didn’t always feel destined for a career in higher education.
“When I was a graduate student, I was pretty determined that I was not going to go into academia. I was going to go work for the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund,” she said.
She reluctantly agreed to teach a course at the urging of her dissertation advisor, a decision she attributes to being raised by immigrant parents who emphasized politeness and being deferential.
“About a third of the way through the first class session of this course that I was teaching, I realized how much I loved the classroom,” Miranda explained. “At the last minute, I switched up my job search strategy and ended up in academia. My first faculty position was at Duke, which is where I had done my undergraduate degree.”
Miranda served for 21 years on the faculty of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, with joint appointments in the Integrated Toxicology Program, Department of Pediatrics and Duke Global Health Institute. From there, she spent four years on the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), where she also served as the Samuel A. Graham Dean of the school. Prior to taking the provost role at Notre Dame, Miranda had been the Howard R. Hughes Provost at Rice University for from 2015 to 2019.
Kate Garry, Thrive! president and the director of communications and marketing for the College of Arts and letters, highlighted Miranda’s successful track record in increasing diversity while provost at Rice. Garry noted that several people submitted questions inquiring how the provost plans to achieve similar results at Notre Dame.
“What I found at Rice and what I’m finding here is that people have very, very good intentions. They want things to be better, and they do not have a toolkit,” Miranda shared. “One of the jobs of the Provost’s Office is to help provide that toolkit. So how do you think about doing the faculty search differently? How do you think about doing faculty candidate visits to campus? How do you think about the package that you offer differently? … One of the biggest points in recruiting faculty, or recruiting graduate students or recruiting undergraduate students is … we don’t just eat the fish that wash up on the beach, we actually have to go fishing.”
Thrive! Inspiring ND Women is an employee resource group (ERG) focused on increasing opportunities for women to be recruited, retained, and advanced as leaders at the University of Notre Dame. Membership is open to all faculty, staff, and administrators who support these objectives. Launched in 2016, Thrive has grown to become the largest ERG on campus with more than 1,000 members. Its purpose is to serve as a resource to the Notre Dame community with respect to the professional development of women and to assist the University in realizing its diversity and inclusion plans. For more information, visit the Thrive! website and check out the group’s newsletters.