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Vice Provost for Academic Affairs


As Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Jason Merchant works with deans and chairs on faculty appointments, promotions, recruitments, and retentions, and helps ensure that the University’s commitment to outstanding scholarship and teaching guides every decision. He provides leadership to the University in navigating an increasingly complex regulatory environment for research and publication, ensuring that key areas of compliance and policy, such as conflicts of interest and commitment, further rather than detract from our ability to engage in transformative scholarship, innovation, and education. Jason helps the University maintain its unique scholarly environment that balances Provostial oversight with faculty governance in a meritocratic system that respects autonomy of judgment and academic freedom. He fosters a service-oriented approach to the many roles in faculty life and academic affairs overseen by the Provost and leads, on behalf of the Provost, on key research, education, and individual faculty issues.
Mr. Merchant is the Lorna Puttkammer Straus Professor in the Department of Linguistics and the College at the University of Chicago.  His primary research is in formal syntax, where he has published and edited books and articles on grammatical theory, analyzing language structures in more than two dozen languages (with special emphasis on modern Greek), and in formal semantics, morphology, and phonology. He has also done experimental syntax, fieldwork in the Balkans, and work on historical semantics and legal interpretation, and on bilingual children’s language competency. He has served as associate editor for Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America, and for Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals and book series.  He earned his B.A. in linguistics summa cum laude from Yale in 1991 and his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1999; he has been a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst fellow at the University of Tübingen, a Fulbright fellow at Utrecht University, and an Onassis fellow at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He held postdoctoral fellowships at Northwestern University and the University of Groningen before joining the faculty of the University in 2001, and has taught as well at the École Normale Supérieure, Leiden University, University College London, and Konkuk University, Seoul. He has studied nineteen languages.
Jason has had several academic leadership roles at the University, including Director of Undergraduate Studies in linguistics, chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, interim chair of the Department of Linguistics, and Deputy Dean of the Humanities Division, as well as having served on the College Council and board of the Graham School. He developed the Humanities Core course Language and the Human, served as president of the University of Chicago’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and is a recipient of the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He volunteers at the National Hellenic Museum, teaching modern Greek to adults and children.