Renowned Astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana Appointed as Johns Hopkins University’s 16th Provost

    Ray Jayawardhana, a highly esteemed astrophysicist and accomplished academic leader, is set to embark on a new chapter in his illustrious career as he joins Johns Hopkins University (JHU) as its 16th provost. Currently serving as the dean of Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Jayawardhana has left an indelible mark on the academic community with his exceptional contributions. Under his guidance, Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences flourished, witnessing remarkable growth and development.

    During his tenure at Cornell, Jayawardhana prioritized four strategic areas: faculty renewal and support, research and creative excellence, academic innovation and student experience, and public engagement and impact. With unwavering dedication, he spearheaded initiatives that enhanced the student experience, attracted top-tier faculty members, and elevated the scholarly distinction of the college. It comes as no surprise that Jayawardhana stood out among a pool of exceptional candidates during the comprehensive national search conducted by JHU.

    The news of Jayawardhana’s appointment as provost was met with resounding approval as the executive committee of JHU’s board of trustees gave their seal of approval last week. His official start date at JHU is slated for October 15, 2023. In anticipation of his arrival, JHU President Ron Daniels expressed his enthusiasm, praising Jayawardhana’s visionary leadership and his unwavering commitment to excellence and collaboration. President Daniels firmly believes that Jayawardhana’s appointment as provost will propel JHU’s pursuit of excellence and further cement its impact in the academic world.

    Jayawardhana’s academic journey has been nothing short of remarkable. Prior to joining Cornell, he held the position of dean of science and professor of physics and astronomy at York University in Canada. Before that, he spent a decade as a faculty member at the University of Toronto, where he made significant contributions as a Canada Research Chair and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics. His expertise and dedication also led him to serve as a senior advisor to the president for science engagement.

    Hailing from Sri Lanka, Jayawardhana’s academic prowess is matched only by his passion for unraveling the mysteries of the universe. His research focuses on planetary systems, delving into their diversity, origins, and evolution. With a keen eye on the prospects for extraterrestrial life, Jayawardhana and his team utilize powerful telescopes both on Earth and in space to study planets beyond our solar system. Notably, he is a core science team member for the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument on the highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope.

    In addition to his scientific achievements, Jayawardhana is also a respected author and writer. His insightful articles have graced the pages of prestigious publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Furthermore, he has authored several books, including “Strange New Worlds” and “Neutrino Hunters,” which have garnered critical acclaim and accolades. One of his recent publications, “Child of the Universe,” aims to ignite the same fascination for the cosmos in young readers that he experienced as a child.

    With his diverse range of experiences, Jayawardhana brings a unique perspective to his new role as JHU’s provost. As the university’s chief academic officer, Jayawardhana will collaborate closely with President Daniels and other leaders at JHU to drive interdisciplinary initiatives, shape academic policies, and prioritize the university’s research and educational missions. His appointment follows the departure of Sunil Kumar, who now serves as the president of Tufts University.

    The JHU community eagerly awaits Jayawardhana’s arrival and looks forward to the exceptional contributions he will undoubtedly make as the university continues its remarkable trajectory. With his visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to excellence, Jayawardhana is poised to further elevate JHU’s position as a leading academic institution.