Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Edward S. Macias, PhD, has announced that Barbara A. Schaal, PhD, the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences and director of the Tyson Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, will become the university’s next dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Schaal is a world-renowned evolutionary plant biologist who is widely recognized for her pioneering research.
Schaal succeeds Gary S. Wihl, the Hortense & Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities in Arts & Sciences, who will be on leave beginning Jan. 1, 2013.
During his tenure, Wihl has played an important role in recruiting key faculty and academic leaders, including the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and the director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics. He also oversaw the redevelopment of Umrath and Cupples II halls.
“Dean Wihl has added outstanding new faculty and has revitalized key facilities for Arts & Sciences, and I am grateful for his contributions as dean,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.
During his leave, Wihl will work to identify the ways that art museums and academic institutions can collaborate to their mutual advantage and will report to Chancellor Wrighton on his studies in this area.
According to Wrighton, Schaal brings the experience, expertise and passion to the deanship that is essential at this critical moment in the university’s history. Her transition follows three years of faculty-led strategic planning that identified key priorities for the future of Arts & Sciences. As dean, Schaal will work to realize the full promise and potential of that effort.
“This is the right time for Barbara’s leadership,” Wrighton says.
Schaal was on the faculty of the University of Houston and Ohio State University before joining Washington University in 1980 as associate professor in biology. She became a full professor in 1986.
She was among the first plant scientists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants, and she has worked to advance understanding of plant molecular systematics and population genetics. Her recent work includes collaborating with students and peers to research the evolutionary genetics of plants in hopes of enriching crops such a cassava — the sixth-most important food crop in the world — and rice.
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