Meet Provost William F. Tate IV

William F. "Bill" Tate IV began his tenure as provost at the University of South Carolina on July 1. He comes to South Carolina from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as the dean of the graduate school and vice provost for graduate education.

You are coming to the university during an unprecedented time. How has your research and previous experience prepared you to lead the academic programs at South Carolina during this time?

The requirements for the position called for an individual with experience as an academic and research leader. My resume offered experiences as an endowed professor, program director, department chair, center director, dean and vice provost at one the leading research institutions in this country. And our team worked in collaborative fashion to add value to the university’s academic and research enterprise.

Under normal circumstances these experiences check the box as prepared to serve as a provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at a flagship institution. However, we face a challenging period in this country’s history. The killing of George Floyd captured and shared across the world has generated outrage and anger about social and economic policy. I share the pain and the struggle with colleagues, students and community members attempting to address the injustice and related conditions. His case and others in the recent past demonstrate the need for sustained civic engagement. And the academic enterprise plays a major role in preparing the next generation of citizen scholars and leaders. My academic, research and public service align with building academic and research partnerships that contributed to the community in the form of leadership development, knowledge creation, innovation and evidence-based practice.

With a pandemic that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths across the world, we face uncertainty in managing our lives. My academic preparation as an epidemiologist is timely during a pandemic. I plan to apply my knowledge to support our community. In ways that I could not have foreseen, my academic and research experiences align in distinct fashion with this challenging time in history.

As a new member of the university’s leadership, what’s your message to the campus community?

This is not a time of retreat. Now more than ever we need those with keen minds and a desire to help. Collectively, we must support one another and the community. Our academic and research enterprise offers great value to the state of South Carolina. Together, we can build on the long arc of investments by the state, faculty members, staff, students, alumni and other community supporters to create a stronger South Carolina. I am excited to work with President Caslen along with faculty, staff and student leaders as we build on past successes to reach new heights related to academic excellence, affordability, access and inclusivity.

What are you looking forward to most in your first year?

I want to understand the traditions and culture of the University of South Carolina. I look forward to engaging with the people, traditions, history, and culture of the institution and the community. Engaging with the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and broader community represents the special part of joining the team. In particular, I welcome the opportunity to partner with President Caslen and the trustees, colleagues in the administrative ranks, faculty leaders and our student leaders. Opportunities exist to build on the strengths of the institution. I am excited about working to support and to advance the access and affordability agenda.

What do you like to do for fun?

I am a fledgling golfer. My fledging status offers many opportunities for humility and the occasional moment of joy. The comradery associated with golf is special. I love sports and view the best parts of it as a way of thinking about leadership — supporting others, sacrifice and discipline. I have experienced some of my greatest moments of enjoyment working in the context of a team.  

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I enjoy the Socratic approach. I surprise many students and faculty colleagues with questions about their questions. It jars at first, then slowly breaks into stimulating discussion. Often the discussion offers greater transparency than expected. Again, that surprises my colleagues.

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