Provost and incoming President Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D., has announced the appointment of Associate Professor and Chair of Economics Tammy Leonard, Ph.D., as interim provost for the 2021-22 academic year. Leonard will officially assume this role on July 1, 2021.
"Dr. Leonard is a leader of remarkable vision, energy and dedication to the good of all those she serves,” said Sanford. “Her outstanding scholarly achievements, her devotion to the good of our students, her leadership experience, her knowledge of the university and its recently announced restructuring plan, and her inspiring commitment to advancing the basic tenets of Catholic social teaching in promoting human dignity through her many activities in the broader DFW community, make her an ideal person to hold this post. She brings a creative and rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, and her personable and collaborative style of leadership, animated by her deep Catholic faith, will be assets in this new role.”
Leonard received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University in 2001, an M.S. in economics from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2007, and a Ph.D. in economics also from UTD in 2009. She first taught at the University of Dallas from 2014 to 2017, during which time she moved from affiliate assistant to associate professor. After teaching at the University of North Texas for two years, she returned to UD in 2019.
“I am grateful to be able to serve UD in the role of interim provost,” said Leonard.
Other administrative positions held by Leonard include director of UTD’s Ph.D. and M.S. economics program; assistant director of UNT’s Economics Research Group; and founder and co-director of the Community Assistance Research Group, a multi-institution community-academic collaboration in Dallas/Fort Worth aimed at advancing evidence-based programmatic approaches to support low-income families and building capacity of nonprofit service providers. She also is co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Review of Regional Studies, is on the Board of Directors of Crossroads Community Services and has over 40 peer-reviewed academic publications. She has secured and managed over $2.9 million in research funding, over $1 million of which has been directed toward improving programs to serve low-income families in Dallas in collaboration with local nonprofit service providers.
Last year, Leonard, along with Associate Professor of Human and Social Sciences Carla Pezzia, Ph.D., received a federal grant for $250,000 to support their research on food insecurity among senior citizens in the Dallas area.
Leonard postponed her engineering career for a year to serve as a volunteer high school teacher with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize. Later she entered graduate school to study economics when her oldest daughter was two months old.
“I loved the problem solving and scientific rigor of engineering, but my heart is in solving problems more closely tied to helping people who are often overlooked,” she explained. “The desire to contribute in this area was affirmed by my time spent serving in Belize.”
Along with her family — husband, Matt, and six children: Gracia (17), Ayden (15), Abigail (12), Colette (10), Isaac (7) and Hannah (5) — she is currently a parishioner at St. Anthony's in Wylie, Texas. She enjoys running, triathlons, basketball and soccer, but most often is busy with whatever her kids are into, which she says seems to be just about everything.
“Throughout my career, I have been committed to advancing the education of the students in my classes not only for the betterment of their personal lives, but also encouraging them to seek ways that their gifts and talents can be put at the service of others,” said Leonard. “While the interim provost position is temporary, it comes at a time when the need for renewed commitment to action and dialogue rooted in charity and service is significant. UD’s mission is of great relevance for the current moment, and I am honored to play a role in charitably advancing that mission over the next year.”
“I am so grateful that Dr. Leonard has accepted the invitation to serve the University of Dallas in this new way,” said Sanford. “The university itself, our broader community, and all those affected by our mission will be the beneficiaries."