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Washington State University Provost Search

Elizabeth Chilton named provost and executive vice president

May 1, 2020

Elizabeth Chilton, dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University, will be the next provost and executive vice president at Washington State University.

Following a nationwide search, Chilton has been selected to succeed Bryan Slinker, who has been serving as the interim provost since September. Chilton’s first day in the new role will be Aug. 1.

“I’m thrilled to be joining WSU at this important time in its history, as leaders work toward the completion of the university’s first system‑wide plan with the Drive to 25,” Chilton said. “I’ve spent my professional career as an anthropologist thinking about how systems work most effectively, as well as how the cultures and histories of individual campuses connect to the overall system. I’m excited to be a part of this important process.”

As provost and executive vice president, Chilton will serve as WSU’s highest ranking academic officer, responsible for guiding all aspects of the university’s system‑wide academic mission. As such, she will oversee the evolution of WSU’s core mission to prepare students for career and life success, nurture research that addresses the challenges of our times, and build partnerships that engage with and serve the people of our state.

“Elizabeth brings to WSU a deep understanding of and dedication to the values of a land‑grant university in the twenty‑first century,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “Her leadership experience, strengths in creating collaborative relationships, and commitment to diversity and inclusion since the beginning of her career make her the ideal person to lead our statewide academic enterprise during a period of both great opportunities and great challenges.”

Chilton has served as dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University, which is part of the State University of New York system, since July 2017. Prior to that appointment, Chilton spent 16 years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, serving as a professor, anthropology department chair and associate vice chancellor for research and engagement, among other roles.

After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Albany, Chilton successfully pursued masters and doctorate degrees in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After graduation, she applied for 60 jobs across the country and was rejected by 59. Her lone offer came from Harvard University, where she taught as well as served as the associate curator for the Archeology of Northeastern North America at the institution’s Peabody Museum.

“It was an amazing experience, but I felt a bit like Alice after falling through the rabbit hole upon arriving at Harvard,” Chilton said. “After a few years, I knew that I wanted to give back to public institutions where I’d been from kindergarten through my Ph.D program, so I returned to UMass Amherst before moving on to Binghamton and now WSU.”

Chilton is a first‑generation college student, and has actively worked toward making the institutions she’s served more accessible, inclusive, and diverse.

“At Binghamton, we focused on two key initiatives wherein we brought in faculty working on issues of social inequality, who are not only educating our students, but serving as mentors and role models as well,” Chilton said.

In addition to her administrative roles, Chilton is a respected author, teacher and scholar of New England archeology and Native American studies, among other disciplines. Chilton’s husband, Michael Sugerman, will join the College of Arts and Sciences as a career track associate professor of anthropology.

Chilton also serves as president of the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association, and as a faculty fellow for the Higher Education Leadership Programs for Women, or HERS, which aims to create and sustain a diverse network of bold women leaders. She’s been involved in more than a dozen conferences since 1999, serving as an organizer as well as a moderator and panelist, and is the author of dozens of peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles.