URI names accomplished scientist as dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences

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KINGSTON, R.I. — July 20, 2010 — Following a national search, Dr. John Kirby, an accomplished scientist and seasoned administrator from South Dakota has been appointed Dean of the University of Rhode Island’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS). He will also serve as director of the University’s Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension. Donald H. DeHayes, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs made the announcement to the campus community today. The appointment takes affect Aug. 16.

“Dr. John Kirby brings a very strong understanding of both the teaching and research mission of the College of Environment and Life Sciences. He has extensive experience in managing and a deep passion for the land grant mission and commitment of public research universities,” DeHayes said in announcing the appointment. “His strong background as a productive scholar, committed educator, and excellent manager of human and fiscal resources will serve both the College and the University well. He also understands the importance of building a strong community within academic units, which is important to all of us.”

Kirby has been Director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station at South Dakota State University since 2006 and has also served as Associate Dean for Research of the university’s College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. He has been a professor in the department of biology and microbiology there as well.

Kirby says the position at URI seemed like a natural fit for him, as his full academic career includes a faculty appointment at the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and a post as Director of a multi-college interdisciplinary graduate program in Cell and Molecular Biology.

“When I looked at the total program in CELS at URI – including the environmental and marine sciences, basic biology and genomics, and agriculture programs of critical importance to the state, its industries, and citizens – I was impressed with the diversity and importance of the work of the College. I have experience in and enthusiasm for all these areas. URI is probably the only place in the United States where all of these important and exciting programs are wrapped up into a single college. I am honored to be in the position of leading this productive and important College at URI,” said Kirby.

As dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Kirby will provide leadership for all of the college’s academic, research and outreach programs. He will also manage efforts to obtain external funding for a number of important University and college strategic initiatives.

Before he joined South Dakota State, Kirby had served as the Interim Associate Dean of the Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences and Director of the Program in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas. Earlier in his career, Kirby served as a linguist in the U.S. Air Force.

He received his doctorate from Oregon State University in 1990 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern University School of Medicine. He received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE.

Kirby and his wife, Yvonne, will move to Rhode Island early next month.

URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 1,300 and almost 300 graduate students of which 200 have assistantships. The college offers undergraduate degrees in 18 majors and four minors and 13 graduate degrees in 39 specialties. There are about 100 faculty members engaged in teaching, research and outreach within the college.