URI names prominent ocean scientist to lead Graduate School of Oceanography

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KINGSTON, R.I. – July 23, 2012 — Following an international search, the University of Rhode Island has appointed Bruce H. Corliss dean of its Graduate School of Oceanography, effective September 2012.

Dean Corliss will have executive responsibility for the school and provide leadership for its academic, research and outreach activities. GSO is one of the world’s foremost marine research institutions. It currently enrolls approximately 90 graduate students and employs 200 faculty, researchers and support staff at the University’s Narragansett Bay Campus.

“Dr. Corliss brings to the Graduate School of Oceanography a breadth of knowledge and extensive administrative and management experience in academia and a superb record of research and education in the field of oceanography,” said URI’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald DeHayes. “Along with his wealth of varied experience in oceanography, he is familiar with URI and the New England region, having received his Ph.D. and M.S. in oceanography at GSO.”

Corliss is leaving his position as director of the Duke/University of North Carolina Oceanographic Consortium, which consists of five universities in North Carolina that operate the R/V Cape Hatteras research vessel.

“I am delighted to be returning to the Graduate School of Oceanography and consider it an honor to be selected as its next dean,” said Corliss. “GSO has an outstanding record of accomplishment in oceanography and marine science, based on contributions made by its faculty, students, and staff over the last 50 years. I look forward to working with the GSO community to continue this tradition of significant contributions in education, research and outreach to URI, the state of Rhode Island, and the oceanographic community.”

Corliss chairs the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 61 academic institutions and national laboratories that work together to coordinate the activities of U.S. oceanographic research ships. In this capacity, he hosted a workshop on Greening the Academic Fleet in January to help make existing and future research vessels more environmentally sustainable. Corliss also developed a speaker series to undergraduate colleges serving minority students with the aim of recruiting students of color into the ocean sciences.

Previously, he served as interim chair of the Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, senior associate dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, and chair of the Department of Geology, all at Duke University. Before working at Duke, he was on the scientific staff at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, his research has focused on paleoceanography, deep-sea biodiversity, benthic microorganisms, and the development of paleoclimatic proxies. He has participated or been the chief scientist on numerous research expeditions, including in the North Atlantic, the Southern Ocean, the South China Sea, Norwegian fjords, the New England continental margin, and North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound.

“Bruce is well known in the oceanography community, especially for his leadership on ship and seagoing measurement issues during a time of changes in the way oceanographers access the oceans and changes in federal ocean science budgets,” said Margaret Leinen, executive director of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University and a member of the GSO Advisory Council. “He will bring this broad knowledge of ocean science community needs and capability and of federal funding to URI and GSO.”

“Bruce and I started together as GSO graduate students and have been friends and colleagues ever since,” said James Yoder, vice president for academic programs at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “Bruce has the experience, knowledge and love of GSO to make a great dean, and we at Woods Hole look forward to working with him.”

Founded in 1961, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country’s foremost academic marine science centers. Its faculty, students and staff play a leading role in ocean exploration and in research and teaching on a broad range of environmental topics, including human interactions with the ocean and climate, natural hazards, and ocean processes at unexplored scales. GSO hosts the Coastal Institute, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the UNOLS office, the National Sea Grant Library, and many other federal, state and non-profit programs. Its signature strengths include the research vessel R/V Endeavor, the Coastal Resources Center, the Office of Marine Programs, and the Inner Space Center.