Provost Suzanne Austin

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Suzanne Austin became executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at the College of Charleston on July 1, 2020. In this role, Austin serves as the chief academic officer of the College of Charleston and is a key member of the president's senior staff. She oversees academic programs, faculty affairs and many academic support functions, and works to ensure that the College of Charleston fulfills its institutional mission and goals.

Before joining the College, Austin served as senior vice provost and senior international officer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), a public research university with 23,000 students and $600 million in external research funding. In this role, Austin led UAB's strategic internationalization efforts through the Office of Global Engagement that includes the INTO UAB Center, International Education, International Student and Scholar Services and Education Abroad. She also led the Offices of Faculty Affairs, Service Learning and Undergraduate Research, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), the UAB Writing Center, National and International Fellowships and Scholarships and UAB Army ROTC. In addition, she led strategic initiatives to enhance UAB's online offerings and increase enrollments through the Division of eLearning and Professional Studies.

Before becoming senior vice provost and senior international officer at UAB, Austin served in several senior administrative positions at the University of Delaware including interim dean of the College of Education, associate provost for academic affairs, divisional dean for the Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, and chair of the Department of Art. Austin has been awarded an American Council on Education Fellowship and a Bryn Mawr Institute for Women Leaders Fellowship. She has also earned certification from the Society for College and University Planning.

Austin has been actively engaged in community service, particularly in the area of workforce development. While at UAB, she served as a board member and member of the executive committee for the regional workforce council for central Alabama. Austin also served on the education and workforce steering committees for the United Way of Birmingham, and she chaired the Workforce Development Committee for the Birmingham Business Alliance.

Austin holds a Ph.D. in history from Duke University, an M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in English/journalism from North Carolina State University.


1984: Ph.D., History, Duke University
1978: M.A., History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1977: B.A., English/Journalism, North Carolina State University

Career Highlights

2020–present: Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, College of Charleston
2011–20: Senior Vice Provost and Senior International Officer, U. of Alabama at Birmingham
2011–20: Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Secondary Appointment in African American Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, U. of Alabama at Birmingham
2010: Interim Dean, College of Education and Public Policy/Education and Human Development, U. of Delaware
2009: Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, U. of Delaware
2008–09: Divisional Dean for the Social Sciences and History, College of Arts and Sciences, U. of Delaware
2007–08: Faculty Director, Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, U. of Delaware
2005–07: Faculty Fellow, Office of the Provost, U. of Delaware
2001–03: Chair, Department of Art, U. of Delaware
2000–01: Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, U. of Delaware
1998–2000: Director, Latin American Studies Program, U. of Delaware

Honors and Achievements

2016: Department of the Army Commanders Award for Public Service
2006: Integrated Planning Institute (certification), Society for College and University Planning
2004–05: American Council on Education Fellow, West Chester University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College
2000: Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), Bryn Mawr Institute for Women Leaders
1981–82: Fulbright Fellowship (Spain)

Welcome Message

July 1, 2020

Today begins an exciting, new chapter for me personally and, I hope, for the College of Charleston.

I first want to commend our entire faculty for all of their efforts this past spring in providing the best teaching and classroom experience possible under very trying circumstances of historic proportion. From what I have seen from afar, your efforts were nothing short of inspiring. And I am proud to join such a caring and dedicated community of scholars.

Being a historian of epidemiology and demography is very different than being an active participant in a global pandemic. My appreciation for those of centuries past who experienced such chaos firsthand has grown exponentially. The everyday toll on our emotional, physical and fiscal wellbeing is unrelenting. However, we can also turn to history for hope: Humanity finds a way. The big question is when. This waiting, of course, is a test of our resilience. But from what I have seen of our campus community, I know we can and will persevere.

As your new provost, I plan to hit the ground running. I know this past year has been one of tremendous transition on campus. I am deeply indebted to Fran Welch, who did a remarkable job serving as the interim provost. Her accomplishments, which are too numerous to name here, would be the envy of a provost with a 20-year tenure. Thank you, Fran, for your leadership and impressive work.

Of course, she did not do it alone, and neither will I. She had a great team around her and she relied heavily on a talented faculty for ideas and execution. Like her and many of the best examples of leadership, I am a collaborator by nature, so I look forward to working closely with all of you on a wide range of projects and initiatives. As you have heard President Hsu say numerous times, this university possesses so much potential. That is what I saw when I interviewed for the position, and that is what I continue to see now. Together, we will unlock that potential and unleash more of it.

As your provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, I will be transparent, honest and clear. We are best when we can trust each other, and I plan to earn your trust by my actions and commitment to honest and open dialogue, whether on curriculum, budgeting or exciting new initiatives.

I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming weeks and months and I am excited to partner with you in achieving our shared vision of making the College of Charleston a model institution of higher education on the national stage.

I will end with one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite writers, the Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” That logic, I believe, holds true for our institution as well, and I am excited to be here and to ensure that the College of Charleston keeps pursuing dreams for another 250 years.