Duties, role, and selection
The specific duties and areas of responsibility for a provost vary from one institution to another, but usually include supervision and oversight of curricular, instructional, and research affairs.
The various deans of a university's schools, colleges, or faculties generally report to the provost, or jointly to them and the institution's chief executive officer, whether that is called its president, chancellor, or rector). Likewise the heads of various interdisciplinary units and academic support functions, such as libraries, student services, the registrar, admissions, and information technology. The provost, in turn, is responsible to the institution's chief executive officer and governing board or boards (variously called its trustees, the regents, the governors, or the corporation) for oversight of all educational affairs and activities, including research and academic personnel.
In many but not all North American institutions, the provost or equivalent is the second-ranking officer in the administrative hierarchy. Often the provost may serve as acting chief executive officer during a vacancy in that office or when the incumbent is absent from campus for prolonged periods. In these institutions, the title of provost is sometimes combined with those of senior vice president, executive vice president, executive vice chancellor, or the like, to denote that officer's high standing.
Provosts often receive staff support or delegate line responsibility for certain administrative functions to one or more subordinates variously called assistant provost, associate provost, vice provost, or deputy provost. The deputy provost is often the right-hand person of the provost who assumes the provost's responsibilities in the provost's absence.
Provosts are often chosen by a search committee made up of faculty members, and are almost always drawn from the 'tenured faculty' or 'professional administrators' with academic credentials, either at the institution or from other institutions.