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Cathryn R. Newton, dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, will return to faculty as first Professor of Interdisciplinary Sciences
Cathryn R. Newton, dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, will return to faculty as first Professor of Interdisciplinary Sciences August 28, 2007Kevin C. Quinnkcquinn@syr.edu
Cathryn R. Newton, dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, today announced that she will step down effective June 30, 2008, after having led The College as dean for eight years. She is the first woman to hold decanal rank in The College and will be the first incumbent in the newly created position of Professor of Interdisciplinary Sciences.
As dean since March 2001, Newton has led The College of Arts and Sciences — Syracuse University’s largest school and the heart of undergraduate learning — through a period of remarkable transformation to its strongest position in its 137-year history. Undergraduate student applications have increased by more than a factor of two and the quality of undergraduate students has risen markedly. Her leadership has resulted in increased quality and excellence throughout The College and increased significance and visibility nationally, all of which has allowed the entire University to grow and build on its strengths.
“Cathy’s strategic investments in people and programs have made not only The College, but Syracuse University itself, a stronger, more spirited place,” says Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Her leadership has been key to many of our most critical and impactful projects, such as the Life Sciences Complex, Imagining America and the Central New York Humanities Corridor, and we are indebted to her.”
“Cathy has been a strong dean of Arts & Sciences, with a deep commitment to excellence in all things, whether recruiting students, evaluating faculty, building new programs or designing buildings,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina. “Our future advancement as a University will build on her strong leadership of Arts & Sciences.”
“Leading The College though this time of such rapid and positive evolution has been a joy,” says Newton. “I remain strongly committed to its excellence and look forward to serving it in new ways.”
One of Newton’s most lasting legacies will be the new $113 million, 210,000-square-foot Life Sciences Complex, which will enable The College and the University to attract world-class researchers, foster critical interdisciplinary scientific collaborations, and remain competitive nationally and internationally in the important fields of biology, chemistry and biochemistry. The complex is slated to open in fall 2008. She led the team-based fundraising that made this project possible.
Newton also led successful efforts in recent years to secure a number of high-profile research grants for The College. These include the $1 million Mellon Foundation grant to create the Central New York Humanities Corridor with Cornell University and the University of Rochester, and awards from the Ford Foundation to support innovative scholarship and civic engagement in the arts and humanities.
Throughout, Newton’s work has been informed by a deep commitment to thoroughly collaborative processes and respect for the faculty as the intellectual heart of The College and the University.
When asked which of her many other accomplishments have been most gratifying, Newton cited several that are also highly visible — such as the conversion of the Tolley Building into the new Humanities Center, the tremendous increase in the diversity of the faculty along all lines, including intellectual lines, the vast improvement in The College’s fundraising and development infrastructure and results, and the multi-year process of accepting administrative responsibility for the University-wide Honors Program, conducting extensive internal and external reviews, raising funds for its renaming and reinvention, and then overseeing the successful transition to the new Renee Crown University Honors Program.
In each case, Newton emphasized the crucial importance of the contributions of many others with whom she has worked collaboratively. For example, in writing the proposal that led to the Mellon Foundation grant establishing the Central New York Humanities Corridor, she worked with 42 others at Cornell, Rochester and SU.
But, Newton emphasized, much of what she has found most gratifying is far less visible. She led the successful effort to bring Imagining America to Syracuse, established the wonderful working relationship the University now has with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and created the Humanities Post-doctoral Program that has brought an acclaimed new option, on a pilot basis, to the teaching of writing within the disciplines.
The daughter of an oceanographer and a teacher of literature, Newton grew up in an environment of intellectual excitement and delight in ideas. At 19 — not so different from the ages of most SU students today — she was already an honors graduate of Duke University, headed for a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina. Later, with a doctorate in earth sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz, she came to Syracuse as a young professor in the geology department — in which she later became chair.
In her 25-year career with SU, Newton has earned international acclaim as a distinguished paleontologist. She has won awards as the outstanding advisor in The College and as the outstanding scholar/teacher in the University. Many of the students she has mentored have become successful faculty members elsewhere.
Newton is especially admired for leading in the development of innovative programs that benefit students, such as the Freshman Forum Program, the Coronat Scholars Program and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program.
Most recently, Newton has served as the deans’ representative to Chancellor Cantor’s Cabinet since September 2006. She has also been a member of the University’s RCM (Responsibility Center Management) Budget Committee since 2005 and was a member of the Budget Revision Planning Committee that led the University-wide transition to the RCM budgeting model. Newton has also served on a wide array of critical University search committees and academic and policy planning committees.
Currently, Newton also serves as a member of the Imagining America National Advisory Board and the board of Syracuse Stage.
Newton joined SU as an assistant professor of geology in 1983. She was promoted to associate professor in 1989 and was named the Jessie Heroy Page Professor of Earth Sciences and chair of the department in 1993. In July 2000, she was appointed interim dean of The College of Arts and Sciences; in March 2001, she was named dean following a national search.
In 1991, Newton received the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, which recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional teaching and a record of significant contributions to the scholarly life of the University. Newton has always been in high demand among graduate students as a faculty advisor and was selected by The College of Arts and Sciences as Outstanding Faculty Advisor for 1999.
She has served on The College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Council and Honors Council, on the planning committee for the Freshman Forum, and as co-director of the University’s WISE program. In 1992, she served as interim associate dean for programs, curriculum and instruction in Arts & Sciences.
Following her departure as dean, Newton will take a yearlong sabbatical to focus on the completion of her longstanding research project on shipwrecks, before returning to the faculty at The College, where she will pursue high-impact interdisciplinary work.
Spina has indicated that he will convene a national search for Newton’s successor immediately.