About the Provost

Dr. Liesl Folks is the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Arizona.  She is the chief academic officer of the university and oversees all academic programs and units exclusive of the health sciences.  She is responsible for all affairs related to the academic mission of the University including the faculty, academic programs, and related budgeting.  As a member of the President’s senior leadership team, her role includes the implementation of the strategic plan for the institution, and ensuring that the University demonstrates excellence as it pursues its missions of delivering an outstanding education that prepares students for the 4th Industrial Revolution.  This also includes ensuring that the University is also conducting research and discovery that addresses society’s grand challenges, defining what it means to be a global university, living and breathing the university’s core values to enable institutional excellence,  as well as advancing the land grant mission in the State of Arizona.  As the chief academic officer, Dr. Folks leads 16 colleges and 24 schools as well as academic affairs, faculty affairs, libraries, University Information Technology Services,  UA Global, and student services.  She also holds the rank of professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

Prior to serving in this role, Dr. Folks was the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Buffalo where she built a reputation as a champion for women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering degree programs.  Under her leadership at UB, Dr. Folks led rapid growth of the engineering school including the addition of 75 faculty and 2,700 students.  Research expenditures grew by 35% and she spearheaded the creation of two new departments. As an internationally recognized expert in the fields of magnetic materials and devices, nanoscale metrology, and spin-electronic devices, Dr. Folks holds 14 U.S. patents and has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed papers.  She also serves on numerous boards and committees and recently became chair of the triennial congressionally mandated National Academies Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.  Prior to working in higher education, she spent 16 years in research and development at IBM Almaden Research Center, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Western Digital. Dr. Folks also holds a volunteer appointment as a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University at Buffalo, where she collaborates on two NSF-funded projects, The NAVIGATE Project and Connecting the Dots.

Dr. Folks earned a master’s degree in business administration from Cornell University after completing both a doctorate and Bachelor of Science degrees in physics from the University of Western Australia.