After searching for more than a year, St. Mary's College of Maryland looked within its own ranks for its next provost and selected Larry E. Vote, who had twice served in an acting capacity in the position.

The college's board of trustees unanimously voted in March to appoint Vote to the position. As provost, Vote is the chief academic officer of the college, charged with overseeing the hiring of faculty and the quality of academic departments and overall education of the college's 1,800 students.

"We're very dedicated to the traditional liberal arts ethos of education," said Vote, 53, stressing that the college wants to foster well-rounded individuals. "Being educated in that way produces a person who can come into society and make real contributions, as leaders and citizens."

Vote steps into the position against a backdrop of state funding cuts and tight fiscal times. St. Mary's is a public college -- outside of the University of Maryland system -- and, like other state public colleges, the school relies on government money. But the college is funded through a block grant system that was spared deep cuts this year, Vote said.

However, the college was asked to make some trims this year and return money to the state, and Vote expects that state deficits will continue.

"The challenge of funding now translates into it being difficult to give faculty raises and being able to keep up on equipment budgets," Vote said. "I think this is one of the most difficult times fiscally."

Vote said he has talked with President Jane Margaret O'Brien about keeping the quality of the college intact in difficult economic times. O'Brien praised Vote's appointment, saying in a written statement that his "leadership has added immeasurably to the cultural life of the college and community."

Vote is an accomplished vocal soloist and conductor who came to the college in 1981 after completing graduate studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He received his undergraduate degree from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash.

He has held more than a dozen positions at St. Mary's, including chair of the music department and faculty senate president. Vote has helped shape the department and had a part in hiring most of the current staff, including trumpet soloist Jeff Silberschlag. Together, they have directed the St. Mary's College of Maryland Chamber Singers and Orchestra and have led the group on tours.

Vote also has sung the music of Bach and Handel on CDs, and in 1995 recorded with the Slovak Radio Orchestra.

Despite the financial constraints, Vote said that he plans to maintain the college's programs and direct new initiatives, including expanding international study programs, based on the interests of students and faculty. He also wants to expand the diversity of the students and faculty in terms of socioeconomics and racial and ethnic background, and to ensure that more students have access to St. Mary's.

"I see that as a particular core value of the state's public honors college," Vote said.

Provost Larry E. Vote came to St. Mary's College of Maryland in 1981.