Made for Mizzou
Engineer and SUNY Provost Alexander Cartwright named chancellor
By some measures, the University of Missouri is a long way from home for incoming chancellor Alexander Cartwright, who grew up in the Bahamas. In most regards, though, Cartwright, provost and vice president of the State University of New York, seems ready-made for Mizzou. He joins the Tiger family equipped with the specialized scientific skills, academic credentials and leadership experience needed to run a Midwestern major research university tackling enrollment and diversity initiatives.
Cartwright is no stranger to the Midwest. After high school, he moved with his mother from Nassau, Bahamas, to Tipton, Iowa, and spent a decade in the Hawkeye State. He paid for community college working at a Stuckey’s and cleaning hog confinement buildings, among other jobs. He then transferred to the University of Iowa, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering — and where he met his future wife, Iowan Melinda Sage.
Cartwright is an accomplished scholar with vital large-research-institution experience. In 1995, he joined the faculty of the University at Buffalo-SUNY, which, like Mizzou, is an Association of American Universities member. In his early years as a professor, Cartwright earned both the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. He served as chair of the electrical engineering and biomedical engineering departments and ran the Laboratory for Applied Spectroscopic Evaluation.
Science and Research
Cartwright is an internationally recognized scientist. He conducts research in optical materials and sensors. He holds four patents. He has produced more than 150 peer-reviewed journal publications. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the International Society for Optical Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also holds membership in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education and the Materials Research Society. A technology he developed was one of just five inventions in the world named on the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ 2013 list “Innovations that Could Change the Way You Manufacture.”
Cartwright knows the complexities of large university systems. Since 2014 he has served as provost and executive vice chancellor of SUNY, a university system with 64 campuses and 1.3 million students. In 2016 he introduced a system-wide policy designed to boost recruitment and retention of students and faculty while maximizing diversity, inclusion and equity. The sweeping changes included installing a chief diversity officer at each campus, broadening the candidate pools for new hires, and implementing cultural competency training. To help SUNY better gather diversity-related data, each student has been given the option to self-identify sexual orientation, gender identity and/or status as a first-generation college student, military veteran or person with a disability. The data will be used to enhance inclusion and enrollment efforts by identifying and addressing inequities. “If anybody walks onto one of our campuses,” Cartwright said, “they should feel at home.”
Cartwright takes over as chancellor of our flagship university Aug. 1.
“Having spent my formative years in Iowa, my wife Melinda and I are delighted to return to the Midwest. We have already found the great people of Missouri and the campus community to be welcoming and supportive,” Cartwright says. “There is no question that MU is one of the state’s most valuable assets. We look forward to joining the Mizzou family and to working together to protect and grow that value.”