An internationally recognized microbiologist, Wright currently serves as dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University, where he oversees academic and research programs on five campuses and at nearly 50 locations. He will join the OU community July 1.
“Through his many accomplishments as a renowned scientist and a proven administrative leader, Dr. André-Denis Wright has demonstrated a unique commitment to collaboration and scholarly excellence, making him an ideal choice to serve as provost,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Our university’s pursuit to become one of the nation’s top public research institutions while equipping our students for a lifetime of positive impact will be bolstered by Dr. Wright’s essential leadership. We look forward to welcoming him to Norman soon.”
As senior vice president and provost, Wright will manage all academic initiatives of the OU Norman campus, including overseeing curricular standards and academic policies, faculty recruitment and development, institutional planning and budgeting, and resource and enrollment management.
A national search was conducted for the position, attracting 55 qualified applicants. The search committee – made up of 11 members representing Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government, alumni and faculty-at-large – invited five semifinalists to participate in virtual forums with members of the OU community. This process entailed conducting a range of interviews and job talks for each candidate. The search solicited feedback from all three campuses, with responses from more than 400 faculty and staff participants following the virtual forums. Wright was the overwhelming top choice to emerge from the formal search process, and he has received a strong endorsement from the Faculty Senate leadership.
“In addition to his research and scholarly achievements, Dr. Wright displayed a clear capacity to meet the complex administrative demands of the provost position,” said OU Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students David Surratt, who co-chaired the search committee. “The role has a tremendous impact on educational access and co-curricular outcomes, and I am very excited about a continued partnership with the Provost’s Office under Dr. Wright’s leadership in support of students both inside and outside of the classroom.”
David Wrobel, dean of the OU College of Arts and Sciences and search committee co-chair, added, “With his distinguished record of grant-funded research, extensive and impressive record of publication in the biological sciences, and his international reputation as a scientific reviewer for the governments of Canada and various European nations, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. André-Denis Wright to the faculty of our Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Moreover, because of his outstanding record of leadership of major research initiatives at both Washington State University and the University of Arizona and his expansive and inclusive vision for the research and instructional missions of our university, we are thrilled to welcome him as OU’s next senior vice president and provost.”
Several members of the OU community also endorsed Wright’s selection.
“We were delighted to hear of Dr. Wright’s selection as the next provost of the University of Oklahoma,” said OU Faculty Senate Chair Amy Bradshaw and Chair-Elect Keri Kornelson. “He has the vision and experience to guide OU toward our ambitious academic goals. We welcome his commitments to shared governance in navigating budgetary and other institutional challenges, and his willingness to move quickly to improve harmful situations, while also working toward structural solutions to complex systemic problems. We look forward to working with him in making OU a place of belonging for all our students, staff and faculty.”
OU Staff Senate Chair Crystal Ary and Chair-Elect Justin Daniels also expressed their support.
“Staff Senate is excited to welcome Dr. André-Denis Wright as our next provost,” Ary and Daniels said in a joint statement. “During the interview process, he has shown strong support for staff, and we appreciate his approach to collaboration with staff, faculty and students. Dr. Wright will be a great fit at the University of Oklahoma, and we look forward to working with him for years to come.”
“As the student representative of the search committee, I was looking for candidates who not only have the qualifications to be a provost, but also demonstrate a strong commitment to putting students first,” said OU senior Justin Norris, who served as president of the Student Government Association in 2020. “Dr. André-Denis Wright consistently impressed me with his personable demeanor and firm mentality towards supporting students in any way he can. I look forward to seeing him serve my peers well as provost.”
In Wright’s current role as dean, he oversees one of the largest and most diverse colleges at Washington State. The breadth of his portfolio is wide, including leadership of 15 schools and departments within the natural and human sciences that serve more than 3,100 students; approximately 1,250 faculty and staff across nearly 50 locations; a $196 million budget; a tribal office; and four research and extension centers across Washington state.
Before arriving at Washington State, Wright served at the University of Arizona as an endowed chair and director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, where he managed a budget of $10.2 million and led more than 100 faculty and staff. Prior to his time in Arizona, he served as a department chair and professor of animal science at the University of Vermont, a role in which he was able to partner with medical faculty on clinical research.
Wright began his academic career in Perth, Australia, where he spent more than a decade working for the country’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. He began as a post-doctoral fellow and ultimately rose to the position of principal research scientist while also training graduate students at Murdoch University and the University of Queensland.
A native of Canada, Wright earned his bachelor of science in biology from Saint Mary’s University and his master of science and his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Guelph. He has published over 110 peer-reviewed papers, contributed 18 book chapters and has delivered more than 40 lectures in 10 different countries.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit www.ou.edu.