Burke Olsen · April 12, 2011
Dr. Madison U. Sowell, former director of the Brigham Young University honors program, today was appointed provost at Southern Virginia University.
Dr. Sowell stepped down from Southern Virginia’s board of trustees eight months ago to serve as interim provost. He filled a vacancy created by the departure of Paul S. Edwards, who left to become editorial page editor at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as provost at this momentous time in Southern Virginia’s history,” Sowell said. “Marvelous things have happened here over the last fifteen years and I look forward to working closely with the president, faculty, staff and students to continue the great work and traditions of this institution.”
The provost reports to and works closely with the president, is the chief academic officer and leads the university’s academic areas and faculty. Dr. Sowell will serve on the executive and president’s councils, chair the academic affairs committee and lead the university in the president’s absence. He also will lead Southern Virginia’s efforts to assemble an application to transition from regional accreditation candidacy to full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
“This culminates a thorough and professional search process, which turned out a host of qualified candidates and four excellent finalists,” said Rodney K. Smith, president of Southern Virginia University. “Dr. Sowell brings a dedication to the highest academic standards, and to faculty development. During his time as interim provost I have seen him become ever more committed to the mission of the university and the genius of small. His many academic and administrative talents, coupled with his abiding commitment to the liberal arts make him an excellent provost.”
Sowell served as director of BYU’s Honors Program and associate dean of undergraduate education, retiring in 2009. From 1998 to 2001 he served as president of the Italy Milan Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sowell is a professor emeritus of Italian and comparative literature at Brigham Young University, where he was on the faculty for 30 years. He served as chair of the department of French and Italian for nearly a decade, was named an Alcuin Fellow, a Karl G. Maeser General Education Professor, and the Scheuber and Veinz Professor of Humanities and Languages.
In 1975 Sowell received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from BYU, followed by a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard, where he won the Jacoby Prize for scholarship and his department’s prize for outstanding teaching.
“Madison’s experience as an educator and university administrator will be of great help to us,” President Smith said. “I am confident not only in his abilities, but also in ours as faculty and staff to work with him for the benefit of the university and the students we serve.”