Provost Ray Jayawardhana assembles experienced leadership team

Executive vice provosts Stephen Gange and Lainie Rutkow, chief of staff Julie Messersmith will work closely with the provost to advance the university's academic mission, strategic vision

Provost Ray Jayawardhana has tapped three university leaders with more than 50 years of combined experience at Johns Hopkins to bolster his leadership team.

Ray Jayawardhana

Image caption: Provost Ray Jayawardhana

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Stephen Gange, who joined the faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1994 and has served as executive vice provost for academic affairs since 2015, will continue in the provost's office as executive vice provost. Lainie Rutkow, named the university's inaugural vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives in 2022, has been elevated to executive vice provost. She joined the Bloomberg School's faculty in 2010 after earning her PhD and MPH in health policy at the school. And Julie Messersmith, who has worked to support research and scholarship since joining JHU in 2013, most recently as assistant vice provost for research, has been named chief of staff and associate vice provost for strategic initiatives.

"As we pursue bold ambitions for Johns Hopkins, building on excellence and enhancing impact, I'm delighted to partner closely with these exceptional colleagues to advance the university's academic mission," Jayawardhana said. "Given the expansive portfolio of the provost's office, including the pivotal role of our team in advancing the university's Ten for One strategic plan, their collective wisdom, insight, and experience will serve our community well."

Headshots of Stephen Gange, Lainie Rutkow, and Julie Messersmith

Image caption: From left to right: Stephen Gange, Lainie Rutkow, and Julie Messersmith

Gange, a professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School with a joint appointment in infectious diseases at the School of Medicine, served as interim provost from May to October 2023. As an accomplished scholar and epidemiologist, Gange played an invaluable leadership role in developing and communicating policies and plans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and also collaborates across Johns Hopkins to advance a spectrum of institutional priorities, including academic reviews, digital education, lifelong learning, and international affairs. He oversees the Office of International Services, directs the Student Services Excellence Initiative (SSEI), and launched both the University Registrar and Student Enrollment and Accounts Management (SEAM) organizations.

As executive vice provost, Gange will continue to provide leadership in academic affairs, enhancing the educational experience for Johns Hopkins students, and fostering innovations in teaching and learning. In addition to those offices above, his portfolio will include academic affairs, research, graduate and professional education, institutional research, information technology, and risk and compliance, and among the academic and cultural centers, the Center for Talented Youth, the Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, and Jhpiego.

"I'm thrilled to continue partnering with Provost Jayawardhana, our leadership team, and my colleagues across the university in shaping the academic landscape at Johns Hopkins," Gange said. "Together, we will continue to nurture our culture of academic excellence as we strive to fulfill Gilman's vision for the university: To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.

"As we pursue bold ambitions for Johns Hopkins, building on excellence and enhancing impact, I'm delighted to partner closely with these exceptional colleagues to advance the university's academic mission."
Ray Jayawardhana

Rutkow, a professor of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, led the strategic and academic planning for all aspects of the Hopkins Bloomberg Center, the university's new home in Washington, D.C. This included the launch of the Nexus Awards, a $15 million program to support faculty-led research, teaching, and convening anchored at the Hopkins Bloomberg Center, and the Hopkins Semester in D.C. program. She also developed and led the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and has launched several public-facing series, including the Johns Hopkins Congressional Briefing Series and the Health Policy Forum.

As executive vice provost, she will oversee faculty affairs, student affairs, admissions and financial aid, diversity and inclusion, and institutional equity, and among the academic and cultural centers, the Johns Hopkins University Press, Urban Health Institute, and Berman Institute for Bioethics. She is integrally involved in the creation of the Johns Hopkins School of Government and Policy, the university's first new academic division since 2007.

"I'm looking forward to working with Provost Jayawardhana, Stephen, Julie, and the rest of the provost's office team to advance the goals in the Ten for One, the university's new strategic framework," Rutkow said. "This is a particularly exciting moment for Johns Hopkins, as we pursue discovery and excellence across a host of domains that impact our faculty, students, and staff."

In previous roles within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Messersmith directed the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships program and several research initiatives, including the Catalyst Awards, Discovery Awards, President's Frontier Awards, and COVID research support program. She developed key research development products and processes such as the university's limited submissions program and rank-specific funding opportunity lists, which remain open to the public. She collaboratively developed Hopkins on the Hill with the federal strategy team and launched the Johns Hopkins Wavelengths multimedia initiative in partnership with the JHU Press.

As chief of staff and associate vice provost for strategic initiatives, Messersmith will serve as a senior advisor to Jayawardhana, partnering with him and the two executive vice provosts to advance the university's strategic priorities; elevate educational, research, and broader engagement efforts; and enhance partnerships with divisions across Johns Hopkins. She will also work closely with university leadership to develop and launch university initiatives, including those directly related to the strategic plan, the Ten for One.

"The opportunity to contribute to the university's mission in this new capacity is both an honor and a challenge I eagerly embrace alongside this fantastic team," Messersmith said. "This moment in the university's history is not just compelling; it's transformative. I look forward to leveraging my experience in cultivating robust and enduring partnerships throughout the institution to foster collaboration, innovation, and excellence across the university during this pivotal time."