University Provost Lisa Lynch will remain in her position through December to help guide the University through the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying her planned transition to teaching at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

University President Ron Liebowitz announced Lynch’s decision to the Brandeis community on Friday, writing that her “institutional knowledge and leadership” will benefit the University as it navigates the pandemic and its aftereffects.

The University had planned to name an interim provost to start on July 1, but as the crisis worsened, the virus became “a major factor in campus planning, prompting us to make significant academic and operational changes,” Liebowitz wrote in an email to the Justice on Monday.

“It became clear to me that the growing complexities of planning our summer session and beyond, in addition to virtually all campus operations, would benefit greatly from [Lynch’s] experience, knowledge, and academic leadership,” Liebowitz wrote.

Lynch then agreed to extend her tenure at Liebowitz’s request so the administration could draw on her experience overseeing numerous aspects of the University, including its academic programs and budgets.

“Given the current situation, I believe that my experience in past economic crises and knowledge of how the university functions will be useful to provide the support our faculty, staff, and students will need as we adjust to the immediate and longer term challenges of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic,” Lynch wrote in an email to the Justice on Monday.

Liebowitz had announced on Jan. 21 that Lynch was stepping down to take a sabbatical leave at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Institute for Work and Employment Research, and that she would be named the Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School upon her return. He then appointed a search committee and partnered with a search firm to find Lynch’s successor, he said in the email to the Justice.

Susan Birren, the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience and former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, will head the search committee for the new provost in tandem with the search firm Isaacson Miller. Liebowitz did not say if this is the same committee that he appointed in January.

As provost, Lynch was involved in leading the University’s reaccreditation process, overseeing its promotion to a Research 1 university and creating the Framework for the Future. She also helped hire individuals for several key administrative positions, including the director of athletics, vice provost of student affairs and several deanships in the School of Arts and Sciences. 

Lynch became provost and executive vice president of academic affairs in 2014. She previously served as the dean of the Heller School from 2008 to 2014 and interim University president during the 2015-2016 academic year.