Saturday, December 9, 2023

UNCW announces two new deans to lead CAS offshoots

On July 1, Stephanie Caulder will take over the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts, while Ronald Vetter will take over the College of Science and Engineering. (Courtesy UNCW)

WILMINGTON — The leaders of UNCW’s two new colleges have been named ahead of the July 1 birthday for the colleges derived from the College of Arts and Sciences.

READ MORE: UNCW looks to divide arts and sciences, faculty cautious of consequences

Stephanie Caulder has been named the founding dean of the College of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts and Ronald Vetter has been named the founding dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

Caulder comes to the university with nearly 25 years of administrative experience, including most recently as the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Radford University in Virginia. Born and raised in Wilmington, she previously held positions at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as the University of North Carolina Greensboro Community Music School. 

Caulder is an accomplished musician with a doctorate in oboe performance from Florida State University and a master’s in multiple woodwind performance from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She has received invitations to perform across the United States and around the world. This summer, she will travel as an artist and presenter to the International Double Reed Society Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. 

“The disciplines represented within the new college all speak to being human in important ways and have a unique ability to foster imagination, innovation and a sense of belonging,” Caulder said in a press release. “I appreciate that Chancellor Volety and Provost Winebrake have put their trust in me, and I am excited to work alongside our excellent leadership team, faculty and staff in continuing to transform the lives of our students. Having been born and raised in Wilmington, it is extra special for me to return after nearly 30 years and help give back to the place I call home.” 

Vetter is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at UNCW and enters the role of founding dean with more than two decades of administrative and leadership experience. He previously served at UNCW as the associate provost for research and dean of the graduate school from 2013 to 2018. Vetter is a co-principal investigator for the National Drug Court Resource Center with the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the 2023 recipient of the Richard E. Merwin Award for Distinguished Service, the highest-level volunteer service award from the IEEE Computer Society. He is also a member of UNCW’s Million Dollar Club for earning more than $5 million in external grant funding. 

“This is a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with administration, faculty, staff and students to position the new college for growth and success,” Vetter said in a press release. “One of the first tasks will be to create a shared vision and identity for the new college, and one that supports the goals of the pending UNCW Strategic Plan. I look forward to leading the CSE as it will play a key role in helping the university build upon its R2 status, advance new research areas, grow external partnerships, expand international relationships and develop new interdisciplinary degree programs.” 

CSE will house the following nine departments and units: biology and marine biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, earth and ocean sciences, environmental sciences, mathematics and statistics, physics and physical oceanography, psychology, and pre-engineering.

CHSSA will house the following 16 departments and units: anthropology, art and art history, communication studies, creative writing, English, film studies, history, international studies, music, philosophy and religion, public and international affairs, sociology and criminology, theatre, world languages and culture, the Gender Studies & Research Center, and graduate liberal studies. 

Port City Daily reported CAS, UNCW’s oldest and largest college, would undergo a division last November. Since then, the university has been working through the logistics of starting two new colleges.

The split faced early resistance last year from many faculty members now in the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts who feared the split was an attempt to divert more attention and resources to STEM programs.

Leaders of the computer science, mathematics and statistics, data science, physics and engineering programs submitted a memo to CAS leadership requesting the split, many advocating the move will help their departments hone their brand and expand their ability to obtain resources. 

Last month, the North Carolina Senate tacked on $8 million more to the university’s state funding for STEM research and workforce programs.

The high number of direct reports and a wide array of disciplines under the CAS umbrella was one of the main drivers to divorce the sciences and arts. With less programs to administer, UNCW leadership’s thought is each dean will have more capacity to advocate for a smaller set of programs.

Chancellor Aswani Volety, former dean of CAS, stated last year “no unit will have fewer resources than they have now.” Essentially, the funding and resources will follow each department to its new school. 

However, the university will have to dish out more funding for the new deans and assistant deans, as well as other support staff serving CAS. In November, the plan was to share support services until the positions were doubled and filled for each college. New buildings are also not included in the division’s plans.

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