Wheatly named Provost at WVU

September 16th, 2009

Michele G. Wheatly, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Wright State University, today (Sept. 16) was named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at West Virginia University.

A respected faculty member, researcher and academic leader, Dr. Wheatly, 53, was selected by WVU President James. P. Clements following a national search which brought three finalists to campus. She will begin her new role Jan. 1.

provost8 “This is certainly a wonderful day for West Virginia University, our entire campus and our state,” said President Clements. “Michele Wheatly is an energetic and dynamic leader…someone who is committed to and passionate about the educational, research and outreach missions of a 21st century land-grant university.

“And, just as important: She is excited to be part of a WVU administrative team poised to begin a new long-range plan and strategic vision.”

Clements said he spoke to Dr. Wheatly’s colleagues, and was impressed with their assessment of her collaborative and approachable leadership style, her research and scholarship and strengths in strategic planning and budgeting.

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“One colleague called her a tremendous talent. Another said she is a great role model on the campus. I was told she sets high expectations for herself and others – and achieves them. These are all great qualities we want to capitalize on in our new provost,” Clements said.

Clements also cited Wheatly’s experience in securing research investments, increasing graduate enrollment and private giving. She also worked closely with the medical school and college of education on multidisciplinary projects and partnerships, he said.

“It is obvious that Michele is smart, innovative, well-liked, trusted – and a true champion of higher education,” Clements said. “She is also passionate about advancing women in science and engineering fields – a career she launched so successfully.”

Clements said Wheatly’s career as a faculty member, researcher, principal investigator, author, department chair and dean prepared her well for her new role.

“She is absolutely ready to be WVU’s next provost. She is truly a star.”

Wheatly addressed a crowd gathered in the Elizabeth Moore Hall Betty Boyd Lounge for the announcement, saying, “I am touched by the confidence you have placed in me. And I have to say, from my experience in your provost search, WVU is a class act.”

During her 30 years in American higher education, she said she came to know WVU through some of its alumni and faculty.

“I fess up to poaching some of your best faculty for key positions in the Miami Valley (of Ohio),” she said. “But I also sent many outstanding students to WVU because the academic programs are world class.”

Besides the impressive campus facilities and academic programs, Wheatly said something else stood out: the pride and humility of the students, faculty and alumni she met.

“It was then that I realized the goodness of this fit for me,” she said, describing herself as “a humble, down-to-earth ordinary person.”

During her Aug. 27-28 campus visit, Wheatly spoke of her childhood growing up in north London, England, and attending an all-girls grammar school known for its rigorous academics.

“I was exposed to some amazing opportunities and teachers and inspired by all I could learn there,” she recalled.

“I found I liked analysis and the process of discovery. Eventually, I got my doctorate in comparative physiology (how animal systems work),” she said.

She earned both a bachelor’s degree (biological sciences) and doctorate from Birmingham University, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary, Canada, before joining the University of Florida as a professor of zoology. After 10 years at UF (1984-1994), she joined Wright State as chair and professor of biological sciences before being appointed dean of the College of Science and Mathematics in 2002.

Wright State is a comprehensive public doctoral research university with high research activity. Named after the world-famous Wright brothers, the university is located in Dayton, Ohio, and serves nearly 17,000 students, offering more than 100 undergraduate and 50 Ph.D., graduate and professional degrees.

She has been the principal investigator or co-PI on approximately $21.5 million in grants with 24 years of continuous funding from the National Science Foundation. She has written or contributed to more than 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and has taught biology, marine and animal physiology, women in science and human computer interaction, among others.

Under her leadership, annual research expenditures at the College more than doubled from nearly $7 million to $15 million, and graduate enrollment increased by 68 percent. Undergraduate enrollment also increased by some 10 percent.

Within her college, she established a Dean’s Circle of undergraduate representatives and revamped the advising in the two largest majors – biology and psychology. She also increased accessibility in laboratories through a program called Creating Laboratory Access for Science Students (CLASS), and recently launched a NSF-funded Regional Alliance in Disability program in partnership with Ohio State.

Involvement in regional initiatives has led to economic development programs such as the Base Realignment and Closure Commission Academic Task Force, numerous pre-kindergarten through university STEM pipeline innovations, including the curriculum design for the new Dayton Regional STEM School, and a NSF grant-funded program to increase participation and advancement of women in science and engineering careers.

She is married to Stan Smith, and they have three children – a son, Skip, 18, and twin daughters, Reva and Mari, 15.

In announcing Wheatly’s appointment, Clements expressed special thanks to the search committee, led by Interim Dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Rudy Almasy, for its dedication and commitment. He also thanked all the people who took the time to offer input during the campus process.

“I especially want to thank the members of the search committee for the many hours they put into the screening, interviewing and consultation process,” he said. “I also appreciate the input I received from faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members as a result of our campus forums. All of this information proved extremely valuable to me in my final selection of Michele Wheatly as WVU’s new provost.”

He also thanked Dr. E. Jane Martin, who has been serving as interim vice president and provost since spring 2008. She previously served as dean of the School of Nursing at WVU for 15 years and also served as the senior advisor to the vice president for health sciences.

As provost, Wheatly will oversee the administration of all academic policies, programs, facilities and budgetary matters except for programs reporting through the health sciences. Specific areas of the provost’s responsibility include: academic personnel, extended learning, extension and public service, graduate education and life, the Honors College, information technology, international programs, libraries, research and economic development and the university registrar.

Wheatly’s salary has been set at $295,000.

For comments from university and state leaders, along with photos, video, curriculum vitae and position responsibilities, go to http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/.

To send a congratulatory message to Dr. Wheatly, e-mail provostsearch@mail.wvu.edu.


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