Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey today announced the appointment of Eric W. Overstrom, PhD, as the university's new provost. The appointment, which follows Overstrom's service as Provost ad interim over the past academic year, is effective immediately.
As WPI provost, Overstrom will be responsible for all of the university's academic and research programs. His primary charge will include reviewing the undergraduate curriculum to ensure its excellence, strengthening core academic and research areas, recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, and broadly supporting the university's continuing increases in quality and stature.
"Eric Overstrom is a remarkable scientist, an excellent professor and a strong academic leader," said President Berkey. "Eric has served with distinction as our provost ad interim, supporting the conclusions of our dean searches and working effectively to integrate the new deans into the leadership structure of the Institute. He has been a strong advocate for faculty needs and for supporting the type of interdisciplinary, cross-departmental collaboration that is so characteristic of WPI. He is widely respected by the campus community, and I look forward to working in close partnership with him."
Overstrom, a Fulbright Scholar, joined WPI in 2004 as a professor of biology and head of the Department of Biology and Biotechnology following more than 20 years of academic service at Tufts University in the Schools of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, and Dental Medicine. As a developmental biologist, his research has investigated the cell/molecular biology of mammalian eggs and embryos, somatic cell cloning, and assisted reproductive technologies through grant support from the NIH and USDA. His contributions in these fields have led to several patents in the field. He came to WPI having already fostered successful research collaborations with key biotechnology companies at the local, national, and international level.
Overstrom's leadership in the life sciences at WPI was instrumental to the creation of the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park (LSBC), which opened in 2007. Over the past five years, with Overstrom leading the charge, WPI has brought outstanding faculty and students into the life sciences programs, and has tripled research funding in this area. Through his leadership, the LSBC has come to serve not only as the school's focal point for graduate education and research in the life sciences and related bioengineering fields, but also as a strong contributor to the continuing development of life sciences industries in the Commonwealth.
Overstrom holds a BA in biology from the State University of New York at Oswego, as well as MS and PhD degrees in reproductive physiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. As a postdoctoral fellow, he trained in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Harvard Medical School. At Tufts, Overstrom received various awards including the Tufts University's President's Award for Outstanding Achievement, and the Lauro F. Cavazos Award for Teaching Excellence. He is also a member of several scientific societies and associations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Cell Biology, the International Embryo Transfer Society, and the Society for the Study of Reproduction.
"This is an amazing time to be at WPI, and I am truly honored to have been named Provost," said Overstrom. "I look forward to working with President Berkey and the deans of Business, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences, and the faculty to advance WPI's world-class educational programs and to grow our bourgeoning research enterprise."