Washington State University Tri-Cities has hired an interim vice chancellor of academic affairs.
Michael Mays was appointed to the position at the Richland university, effective Jan. 1, according to a Monday news release.
Mays took the lead on some of the office's duties in recent weeks. He takes over the position several months after James R. Pratt, who served as interim chancellor before Chancellor H. Keith Moo-Young arrived six months ago, left the position and returned to teaching full time.
The university will search for a permanent replacement in the coming months, with the goal of hiring someone to start in the 2014-15 academic year.
Never miss a local story.
"Academic affairs has never been more important to our campus than it is now, during this year of transformation," Moo-Young said in the release.
Mays arrived on campus more than a year ago to serve as assistant vice chancellor for the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to continuing to oversee that division's programs, faculty and staff, he'll also be responsible for the business, nursing, engineering and nursing professional programs, the library and academic-related student services.
The interim appointment is another sign of Moo-Young settling into his role at the university, said spokeswoman Melissa O'Neil Perdue.
"(Mays) is a good fit for the vision of the campus," she said. "He and the chancellor get along well."
Strong academics and research capabilities were among the areas Moo-Young said he wanted to focus on when he was being considered for the chancellor position.
University officials have already made moves in other areas to enhance the campus, namely a housing arrangement with a nearby apartment complex to create a dorm-like atmosphere for interested students and the announcement of club sports starting next fall.
Danny Talbot, Moo-Young's chief of staff and the faculty member who's led past search committees for leadership positions, is in charge of permanently filling the vice chancellor position.
Mays would have to apply to be considered for the position and O'Neil Perdue said she wasn't aware if he had applied but that "he would be a strong candidate."
w Ty Beaver: 582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald