John R. Swallow is the University's Provost, chief operating officer, and professor of mathematics and humanities. He is responsible for strategic planning and execution, University-wide budgeting, and day-to-day operations. Together with Vice-Chancellor and President McCardell, he oversees all academic and administrative operations.
A 1989 graduate of the University's College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in mathematics and English literature, he enrolled at Yale University for postgraduate study in mathematics on an National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, receiving an M.S., M.Phil, and Ph.D. He joined the mathematics faculty at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., where he taught for seventeen years.
Recognized early for his insight and leadership, he was soon named Davidson's inaugural J. T. Kimbrough Professor, and afterward the elected leader of its faculty, as well as the recipient of its ODK Teaching Award. After taking on leadership roles in strategic planning, implementation, and curriculum revision, culminating in the first revision of Davidson's general education requirements since 1987, he was recruited by Vice-Chancellor and President McCardell to return to Sewanee, and in 2012, at the age of 41, he was appointed Provost.
Active in higher education governance, Swallow was elected trustee of the University in 2001 and regent in 2007. As secretary of the board, he was closely involved in the University's landmark 2011 decision to reduce undergraduate tuition and fees by 10%. He resigned his board position to become provost, and in 2013 was elected trustee of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga.
Swallow has written on technology and student intellectual habits for the Chronicle of Higher Education; spoken on trusteeship for the College Board’s Colloquium; participated in the planning for Yale-NUS College; authored an undergraduate textbook, Exploratory Galois Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2004), as well as over two dozen research articles in mathematics, several with his students; and taken two year-long research leaves, at the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology and at Université Bordeaux I. He is the recipient of three grants, including a Career grant, from the National Science Foundation.