Wrighton names McLeod’s successors

| Editor-in-Chief

Chancellor Mark Wrighton announced Washington University’s new Dean of Arts & Sciences and new Vice Chancellor for Students on Thursday.

The University has been working since September to fill the positions previously held by late James McLeod who passed away on the 6th of that month.

Jennifer Smith, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences and of environmental studies was named dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Sharon Stahl, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of the First Year Center was named vice chancellor for students.

The appointments will become effective on July 1.

“In drawing Stahl and Smith to our leadership team we have a combination of talented, experienced leaders who will build on the foundation built by Jim McLeod,” Wrighton said in a press release.

Stahl has been leading Arts & Sciences in the interim with Wayne Fields since Oct. 1.

Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences: Jennifer Smith

Smith joined the Washington University community in 2002 and became an associate professor in 2009. Throughout her time at the University, Smith has been devoted to the undergraduate experience, volunteering to become a four-year advisor before she was required to.

“She really impressed the committee because she seemed so devoted to finding out what the undergraduate student experience is like over last three to four years,” Wolfram Schmidgen, chair of the search committee, said.

“She really helped the Earth and Planetary studies major, especially with retention of female students, a retention that’s a concern in the sciences,” he said.

The search for dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
30 nominees
12 applicants
5 granted interviews
3 recommended by the committee to Gary S. Wihl, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences

The committee thought that Smith was well-suited for the job because of her work that encompasses both the social and natural sciences, Schmidgen said. She also has a strong interest in the humanities.

Smith said that she sees her primary responsibility as defining the academic experience of undergraduates, but she hopes to go beyond that and work closely with Stahl to ensure that students have an optimal college experience through every aspect of student life.

“I’m hoping to help integrate faculty and younger faculty more with undergraduates outside the classroom,” Smith said.

Smith will also lead the four-year advising program, manage an annual budget of more than $3 million and work with the Undergraduate Council and other departments (such as Residential Life and Admissions) that contribute to the undergraduate experience.

Smith earned her AB from Harvard in 1996 and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001.

“I’m absolutely thrilled. I can’t wait to get to know as many students as possible. That’s why I accepted this position—I wanted the opportunity to work with more students, and I can’t wait to meet everybody,” she said.

Vice Chancellor of Students: Sharon Stahl

Stahl started working at Washington University in 1988, and has been involved in students’ lives ever since.

She hopes to continue McLeod’s legacy during her tenure as Vice Chancellor of Students.

“I was so very lucky because I had the good fortune to be advised and mentored by Jim McLeod for 20 years. My effectiveness as an adviser and mentor to students, every positive contribution that it has been my privilege to make, can be traced back to Jim’s mentorship and his ability to bring out the best in every life he touched,” Stahl said in a press release.

The vice chancellor of students is charged with overseeing the undergraduate education, and is responsible for a wide range of offices including the First Year Center, the Career Center, Greek Life and Residential Life.

Stahl has worked closely with students throughout her time at the University. She became the associate dean of Arts & Sciences in 1995, acting as an adviser and forging connections with her students. She has also developed relationships with students though her work with both the Honorary Scholars and Danforth Scholars programs, as the director of the First Year Center and as the associate vice chancellor for students.

“[This] is such an exciting opportunity to work with Washington University students in this role, and I look forward to learning more about all the facets that define the undergraduate experience, an experience that is as individual as each student,” Stahl said in the release.

Stahl earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1968 and earned her doctorate from St. Louis University in 1987.

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