J. Dennis O'Connor joined the Smithsonian Institution in December 1995 as the Institution's first Provost (chief programs officer). He is responisible for central planning, integration and oversight of research, exhibitions and education for the 16 museums and galleries and 6 research centers which comprise the Smithsonian Institution -- the largest museum and research complex in the world.

Dr. O'Connor is a prominent biologist and educational leader who came to the Smithsonian from the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as Chancellor from 1991 to 1995. A native of Chicago, he earned a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. Dr. O'Connor has served as Professor of Biology and Dean of the Life Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles; and served as Vice Chancellor of Research and Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School prior to being appointed Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and Provost in 1988 at the University of North Carolina.

Dr. O'Connor has served on several corporate and not-for-profit project boards and recently completed a two-year term as Chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum (1996-1998).