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ST. LOUIS • Holden Thorp will take a year-long sabbatical from Washington University after six years as provost, or second-in-command to the chancellor, school officials said.

Washington University provost Holden Thorp

Holden Thorp will take a one-year sabbatical from Washington University in St. Louis. Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle,

Thorp will return to a position in drug development at the university, according to newly appointed Chancellor Andrew Martin. Thorp is a co-founder of Viamet Pharmaceuticals, which is currently testing a drug to treat fungal disease.

“We owe a significant debt of gratitude to Holden Thorp for lending his considerable talents to Washington University during his six years as provost," Martin said in a statement. "Thanks in large part to his outstanding leadership, we are poised to take the university into its next era of excellence in research, scholarship, teaching and learning."

Thorp, a professor of chemistry and medicine, led the university's efforts to increase its racial and economic diversity among students and staff. The percentage of freshmen eligible for Pell grants, an indication of poverty, increased from 6% in 2013-14 to 14% in 2018-19.

Thorp had been a candidate for the chancellor position following the retirement this year of Mark Wrighton after 24 years. Thorp previously served as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Blythe Bernhard is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.