Article By: By Kenneth A. Stewart
The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) welcomed Dr. Steven R. Lerman as the university’s 15th provost, Aug. 29. As provost, Lerman will oversee NPS’ diverse faculty and work to fulfill the university’s mission of providing graduate education to naval officers and other members of the Department of Defense.
“NPS is a place with a very special mission. I have always been attracted to educational institutions that have a real sense of purpose,” said Lerman. “NPS knows what it’s about and it knows what it’s supposed to do … I am excited to be a part of it.”
Lerman’s first order of business is to get out and familiarize himself with NPS students, faculty and staff, and to acquaint himself with the university’s rich history and traditions.
“I do not want to make any rash decisions early on that are not based on a complete understanding of the institution. I am going to spend a lot of time going out and talking to the students, faculty and staff and just listening more than speaking,” said Lerman. “My first goal is to learn, the second is to a lead a process to think about the strategy of the university to best fulfill its mission,” said Lerman.
Lerman comes to NPS after serving as Provost at The George Washington University (GW) and as a vice chancellor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At both institutions, he worked to build a sense of community.
“There has been a great history here, I want to build on that,” explained Lerman. “I bring a sense of how to build a cohesive community around education. The ability to bring together students, faculty and staff around the shared mission of education and the ability to help all of us to think about how to best accomplish our mission – how to be better.”
Dr. Steven R. Lerman officially assumed the duties of Naval Postgraduate School Provost and Academic Dean, Aug. 29. Lerman comes to the university with more than 40 years of experience in higher education, most recently serving as The George Washington University’s Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs.
For Lerman, “being better” seems to mean being engaged. When discussing his educational philosophy, he stresses a hands-on approach.
“Whether or not education is delivered in person or at a distance, it is a contact sport. The interaction between students and faculty, students together, and faculty with students, is really at the core of what makes people learn well and build a deep understanding of subject matter,” Lerman said.
“In my experience, people have to engage with the material that they are teaching or learning. They have to talk about it. They have to talk with others about it. They have to integrate it with the rest of their knowledge … I think NPS does a great job with that in its programs and I think we will continue to do great work,” he continued.
Lerman also references the merits of active, studio and experiential learning noting that while each of these learning styles is different, they share a common characteristic that goes beyond “just listening to someone talk.”
Lerman comes to NPS following more than 40 years of experience in higher education, most recently serving as Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at GW from 2010-2015 and as the A. James Clark Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 2010-2016. As Provost, Lerman was responsible for GW’s 10 schools and colleges, athletics, the Division of Student Affairs and the University Library.
Lerman is a past Lilly Teaching Fellow, and the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Maseeh Teaching Award, as well as the Advisor of the Year award through the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students. He has both chaired and served as a member of countless academic, industry and government advisory boards, and has broadly published in his field of transportation systems analysis.
Lerman received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering, and his Doctorate in Transportation Systems Analysis, from MIT.
Posted September 1, 2016