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"What does a university provost do?"

So asks a faithful reader of the Door. Here are three answers.

1. Boilerplate from the University of Virginia:

The Vice President and Provost of the University is the chief academic officer of the University. The provost is charged by the Board of Visitors and the president with overseeing education, research, and public service in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, in each of the other schools of the University except Medicine and Nursing, in the University's libraries and museums, and in numerous other academically related units of the University.

2. A smartass answer from an anonymous person commenting at the Yale Daily News:

. . . a Provost is someone who stays for a few years and then leaves to become the President of a university. 

3. Finally, and best, a three-quarters serious, one-quarter funny explanation from the current provost of Georgetown University. (Read the whole thing.)

I know a lot about people. The tenure documents that I see every year provide a window into the private workings of departments, throwing light on the issues that faculty members will bring to the administration. Show me a tenure dossier from your department, and I can immediately tell you whether your group is on the rise or decline, whether it is a collegial place to work or a bus station, and whether we're going to have to hire an outside chairman in five years to unleash its energy.