The Smithsonian Institution has appointed John Davis, the Alice Pratt Brown Professor of Art at Smith College and the executive director of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s Global Academic Programs and Terra Foundation Europe, as provost and under secretary for museums and research. He will be the first person to hold this position, which was created by Smithsonian secretary David Skorton to lead and promote multidisciplinary activities across the institution. Davis will assume his responsibilities on July 31.
Davis will oversee the Smithsonian’s nineteen museums and nine research units, the National Zoo, the Office of Fellowships and Internships, the Smithsonian Scholarly Press, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and the Smithsonian Libraries. He will be one of two under secretaries reporting directly to Skorton.
“His impressive career has ranged from academic distinction in the arts and administrative excellence in a distinguished institution of higher learning to international leadership in a major foundation devoted to American art,” Skorton said. “I look forward to his leadership of our scholarly, research, and educational endeavors and his partnership with the scholars and professionals of the Smithsonian.”
Davis has been a faculty member in art and American studies at Smith College, a liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts, for twenty-five years. He served as Smith’s associate provost and dean for academic development from 2007 to 2012. Davis earned his doctorate and two master’s degrees from Columbia University and his bachelor’s degree in art history from Cornell University.