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SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES Biologist Gloria Culver Named Interim DeanLongtime dean Joanna Olmsted steps down from administration; humanities leader Thomas DiPiero named dean at SMU.
deans_sideINTERIM: Gloria Culver, chair and professor of biology, will be interim dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. (Photo: Brandon Vick)

The chair of the Department of Biology will oversee the School of Arts & Sciences during the 2014–15 academic year as a national search gets under way to succeed the school’s longtime dean, Joanna Olmsted.

Gloria Culver ’94 (PhD), professor of biology who has chaired the department since 2010, will serve as interim dean through June 30, 2015. She will oversee one of the largest portfolios among the University’s deans, working closely with chairs and faculty from 18 departments and 12 programs in the humanities and the arts, social sciences, and natural and physical sciences.

Olmsted, who stepped down after seven years as dean of the school, earned wide admiration from faculty and colleagues for her broad interest in and respect for research across all disciplines.

“In every dimension of our activities, Joanna’s distinctive attributes—incisive thinking, unflinching integrity, great personal humility, and unfailing generosity—have moved us powerfully forward, and have earned the respect and affection of all those who have worked with her,” says Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering.

Olmsted joined the biology department in 1975 after completing a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her doctorate at Yale. Supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, she explored the function and regulation of cellular organelles. In 1995, she was appointed as the inaugural associate dean of faculty, later serving as dean of faculty development and interim vice provost and dean of faculty, before becoming dean of Arts & Sciences in 2007.

Also late this spring, Thomas DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies in Arts, Sciences & Engineering, was named dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

As Rochester’s first dean for humanities, DiPiero helped develop initiatives in digital media studies and curricular activities for Rettner Hall, the University’s new digital media arts and innovation center. In 2013, he helped the University secure a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a training program for graduate students in the digital humanities.

A scholar of French literature and French cultural studies, he has been a member of the faculty since 1987.