About the Provost
Jon Harbor currently serves as the Provost and Executive Vice President for the University of Montana, with a joint appointment as a professor in Geography and Geosciences. He began his duties on August 1, 2018.
An innovative and collaborative academic leader, teacher, and scholar, Jon enjoys building effective teams and helping people and organizations work to reach their potential. He is experienced in designing processes that help academic organizations develop and implement novel strategies for success across the major mission areas of higher education. He has served in a wide range of previous leadership positions at the university level, including Executive Director of Digital Education, Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Associate Vice President for Research, Dean of a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Founding / Interim Director of a Global Sustainability Institute, and Founding Co-Director of a Learning Research Center. The breadth of Jon’s leadership roles reflects his ability to contribute across a wide range of areas when there is a need for leadership during periods of transition.
Jon was born in England and completed his undergraduate studies in Geography at Cambridge University. He moved to the USA for his MA in Geography at the University of Colorado, and subsequently completed his PhD in Geological Sciences at the University of Washington in 1990. After working as a Senior Associate Scientist for an environmental engineering company, he served as an Assistant Professor in Geology at Kent State University before being recruited to Purdue University as an Associate Professor. He was promoted to Full Professor at Purdue in 2001 and has held regular and adjunct/visiting/fellowship/ honorary appointments at the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Tennessee, North Carolina State University, Stockholm University, the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), the University of Nottingham Ningbo, and Qinghai Normal University.
With research and education interests in applied hydrology, environmental education, and glacial geology, Jon has worked with a wide range of students and colleagues to author and co-author over 150 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. He has co-directed a series of multinational research teams, most recently focused on scientific work on the Tibetan Plateau and on Antarctica. His research and education initiatives have been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, National Geographic, and several international science foundations. Jon is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (UK), a former Fulbright Senior Scholar, an American Council on Education Fellow, and a Marie Curie Fellow. In 2015, Stockholm University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate.
A passionate and dedicated teacher and mentor, Jon has been recognized with Purdue University’s top awards for both undergraduate teaching and graduate mentoring, and with induction into Purdue’s “Book of Great Teachers”. An effective communicator with varied audiences, Jon is a frequent speaker at conferences, academic institutions, and for community and K-12 audiences.
Jon’s love for Montana began when he was a graduate student at the University of Colorado, when he met fellow graduate student and his future wife, Amy Orr, whose family have been regular visitors and summer residents of Montana for over 55 years. Amy is active in local history and genealogy, and currently serves on the board of a county historical association. Amy and Jon have four children.