New STEM Division Created; Interim Divisional Dean Appointed As Step In CLAS Organizational Review

In fall 2021, the University announced it would launch a review of the structure of the College of Liberal Arts & Science (CLAS). A committee led by Belk College of Business Dean Jennifer Troyer assessed the pros and cons of maintaining a single college or reorganizing departments into smaller colleges. Additional discussions and research are planned over the next 10 months to gain greater clarity about costs and implications for all departments in CLAS before a final decision is made about college structure.

In this interim period, a new academic division of four STEM departments will form within CLAS. The division’s creation will address needs the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics and Optical Science have expressed for identity, advocacy and research support.

Interim Divisional Dean Named

CLAS Interim Dean John Smail has appointed Bernadette Donovan-Merkert, chair of the Department of Chemistry and director of the Nanoscale Science Doctoral Program, as interim divisional dean, effective Jan. 3, 2023.

Bernadette Donovan-Merkert

Donovan-Merkert will report to Smail, but will have substantial independence, particularly around research support, resource allocation, internal collaborations with the Division of Research and the Graduate School, and external relations with funding agencies and industry partners. Other division personnel will include a new divisional business officer and a business support associate.

Additional steps during the next 10-month period will include assessing the divisional model, including costs and resources needed in the new division; and analyzing the needs of other CLAS departments and the structures that would best serve them, particularly as they interact with the STEM units. A final decision on college structure is expected in fall 2023.

Top Image: Close-up of panels from a mural illustrating scientific and mathematical concepts, located in the Science Building, 9029 Craver Road