Robert H. Jones takes over today (Aug. 31) as dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college at West Virginia University.

“This is a wonderful time to join the WVU family; a new president, provost and a 10-year strategic plan create a climate of enthusiasm and opportunity that excites me,” said Jones, who will also be a tenured professor in biology.

“Dean Jones brings a long history of scholarship and service to Eberly and an understanding of the role of a land-grant institution,” said Provost Michele Wheatly, who has been at WVU since January of this year. “His vast administrative background from an aspirational institution such as Virginia Tech also fits perfectly with the direction of the developing strategic plan.

“It’s good to have him on board as we continue to build and refine the academic leadership needed to take West Virginia University to the next level,” she said.

Jones hopes to spend the first several months of his appointment becoming familiar with the programs in the college, and working with faculty, students, alumni and staff to match up the strategic plan of the college with that of the university.

“I look forward to immersing myself in the culture of the college and discovering the best places to apply my energy to help the college improve graduate education, undergraduate student retention, reputation for world-class scholarship, and research funding” he continued.

During the summer months, Jones met with key administrators, department chairs and staff to discuss critical issues limiting the college, and opportunities for WVU to meet the public’s expectations for land grant universities to enable high quality learning, and support social and economic well-being.

“The College has an excellent team of faculty and staff in place, which provides a good foundation for serving our students and the public,” he said.

“The president’s plan to create 100 new faculty positions over the next three years will be crucial to maintain undergraduate enrollment and increase graduate recruitment numbers, particularly in Eberly’s doctoral programs,” he added.

Jones would also like to reach out to alumni, who he says will be instrumental in helping achieve College goals.

“Whether it is facility improvement – like that currently under way at White Hall – student scholarship support, or research opportunity, private giving will be the margin and measure of our success as we strive to reach the next level of international prominence.”

Prior to his appointment as dean in the Eberly College, Jones led the biological sciences department at Virginia Tech. There he oversaw more than 100 faculty and staff members, 90 graduate students and 1,600 undergraduate students pursuing careers in research, medicine, biotechnology, conservation and environmental science.

Jones graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s of science degree in forest management in 1979 and a master’s degree in 1981 from Clemson University. In 1986 he received a doctorate in forest ecology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

After post-doctoral work at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, he joined the School of Forestry at Auburn University. In 1995, he moved to Virginia Tech, becoming department head in 2002.

At Virginia Tech, Jones led efforts to remodel general education programs, enhance first year experiences, and construct new academic buildings. He has taught study abroad, undergraduate, and graduate courses in ecology, and has earned five awards for teaching.

The Eberly College provides 58 percent of all undergraduate instruction at WVU. Enrollment includes 8,287 undergraduate majors and 1,415 graduate students. The college has 356 full-time faculty and 99 classified staff in 30 academic departments, programs and centers in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Annual research expenditures total approximately $11 million, with 127 active principal investigators. A well-established development plan has led to a $40 million endowment that supports 27 distinguished professorships, five chairs and numerous faculty development programs and student scholarships within the college.

Founded in Morgantown in 1867, West Virginia University is a public research university (high research activity as defined by the Carnegie Foundation) and conducts more than $175 million worth of sponsored research funding annually. As the primary land-grant institution in West Virginia, teaching, research and engagement with the state through innovation and technology are at the forefront of its mission.

Dr. Gene Cilento, dean of WVU’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, led the search committee to replace the former dean, Mary Ellen Mazey, who was named provost and vice president of academic affairs at Auburn University in 2009. Rudolph P. Almasy has served as interim dean since Mazey’s departure. Almasy returns to his full-time teaching position in the Department of English this fall.



CONTACT: Lori Blasinksi, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

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