Aswani Volety selected as Elon University’s next provost

The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and executive director for the Center for Marine Science at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, brings 20 years of academic and administrative experience to the position.

Following a national search, Aswani Volety, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and executive director for the Center for Marine Science at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, has been selected as Elon University’s next provost and vice president for academic affairs. Volety will join Elon on Sept. 1, 2019, succeeding Steven House, who previously announced his plans to step down as provost after serving for more than a decade.

An accomplished scholar and experienced leader in higher education, Volety has built a record of academic excellence throughout his career. He has been in his current role at UNCW since 2014, serving as the chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer for one of the school’s largest academic units that comprises more than 10,000 students and 26 departments across the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Volety to the Elon family,” said President Connie Ledoux Book. “His impressive experience makes him an ideal candidate to lead Elon’s academic programs as we prepare to launch our next strategic plan. His commitment to excellent undergraduate teaching, his focus on student success and the teacher-scholar-mentor model, and his strong scholarly credentials will be key assets in guiding Elon’s further advancement as a national university.”

At UNCW, Volety has guided the implementation of several new programs, including a new bachelor’s program in digital arts, a Master of Fine Arts program in filmmaking and master’s programs in data science, computer science and information systems, and integrated marketing communications. Volety has also spearheaded the approval of UNCW’s first engineering program, Coastal Engineering, which will start later this fall. He expanded the number of experiential learning opportunities at the college, funded faculty development initiatives, developed a number of partnerships with international universities and increased the college’s fundraising efforts.

A native of India, Volety is passionate about creating international collaborations and partnerships among institutions of higher learning and communities across the globe. At UNCW, he organized the first Global Marine Science Summit in 2017 focusing on climate change and coastal resiliency. He routinely collaborates on scholarly work with colleagues from academic and scientific institutions in Spain, India, Korea, China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia and France, where he participated in a Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminar in 2017 after receiving a Fulbright Program award.

“I am committed to providing every student with educational and professional opportunities similar to those that have made a difference in my life,” Volety said. “I look forward to applying my experience as a teacher, scholar, mentor, developer of high-impact programming and senior administrator to lead Elon’s new strategic priorities and build on the university’s mission, history and success.”

Volety has been successful in gaining substantial external funding for academic program growth at UNCW and he is a strong advocate for community engagement. He chaired a university-wide task force that provided a roadmap for the university’s community engagement efforts and led to the creation of a new associate vice chancellor for community engagement position. He is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and since his arrival at UNCW, 60 percent of the faculty hires have been either female or minority candidates.

Book announced Volety’s selection on June 21 after receiving a recommendation from a 19-member Provost Search Committee co-chaired by Eric Hall, professor of exercise science and faculty athletics representative, and Jean Rattigan-Rohr, professor of education and vice president for access and success. The committee held a series of community listening sessions, received applications and nominations from 135 individuals and brought three candidates to campus in May for presentations, small-group sessions and one-on-one meetings. Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm serving major organizations in higher education, the nonprofit sector, foundations and health-related sciences, assisted with the search.

“I am thankful for the thorough work of the search committee and for the leadership of professors Hall and Rattigan-Rohr,” Book said. “The committee’s efforts were invaluable as we looked for the best possible candidate who would align with Elon’s values, culture and vision.”

Before joining UNCW, Volety spent 15 years as professor of marine science and later as interim dean for the College of Arts & Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. He completed the re-organization of the college to provide strategic focus to departments, promoted shared governance between faculty and administrators, provided seed money for grant and professional development for faculty across the college, and served on the university’s strategic planning and institutional effectiveness committee. Volety also taught graduate and undergraduate level courses, served as director of FGCU’s Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station and was chair of the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences for six years. 

Volety’s research expertise includes marine organism diseases, physiology, immunopathology, toxicology, and the management and restoration of marine habitats. Specifically, his research focuses on how natural (e.g. salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, algal biotoxins) and anthropogenic (e.g. heavy metals, pesticides and polyaromatic hydrocarbons) stressors affect shellfish. 

Volety holds a doctorate in marine science from the School of Marine Science at College of William & Mary, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in zoology from Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, India.

Volety will work alongside House during the month of September to ensure a smooth leadership transition. House will continue service at Elon in the Office of the President in his role as executive vice president.

About Aswani Volety

Age: 52
Hometown: Visakhapatnam, India
Spouse: Ai Ning Loh
Children: Uma, Mia


Harvard University Institute for Higher Education – graduate certificate in management development; graduate certificate in management leadership in education

College of William and Mary – doctoral degree in marine science, 1995

Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India – master of science degree in zoology with specialization in marine biology, 1988

Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India – bachelor of science degree in zoology, 1985

Professional Experience

2014­–19        Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

2018–19        Executive director, Center for Marine Sciences, UNCW

2013–14        Interim dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University

2010–14        Director, Vester Marine and Environmental Sciences Field Station, and professor, marine science, FGCU

2007­–10        Professor, Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences, FGCU

2005–10        Chair, Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences, FGCU

2004–05        Chair, Division of Ecological and Social Sciences, FGCU

2003–05        Program leader, marine science, Division of Ecological Studies, FGCU

2002–07        Associate professor of marine science, FGCU

1999–02        Assistant professor of marine science, FGCU