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May 13, 2015

Gloria Culver to lead School of Arts & Sciences

Gloria Culver
Gloria Culver

After a yearlong national search, Gloria Culver has been appointed dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. She had been serving as interim dean since July.

“This is an outstanding appointment,” says President Joel Seligman. “Gloria Culver has done an excellent job as interim dean. I look forward to working with her in the years to come.”

Culver became interim dean following Joanna Olmsted’s retirement, after three years chairing the Department of Biology.

“I asked Gloria to be interim dean because she had done a marvelous job leading a large and complex department,” says Peter Lennie, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “As interim dean, Gloria quickly mastered the much broader portfolio of Arts & Sciences, where she has done a remarkable job in hiring and retaining faculty and in supporting the departments. The search process confirmed that she was the right choice.”

William FitzPatrick, the Gideon Webster Burbank Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, chaired the search committee.

“Gloria obviously brings a wealth of talent and experience to this position,” he says, “but what also came up repeatedly was the thoughtfulness and genuineness people experience in their interactions with her. She’s the same person whether you’re meeting her in the biology department, the dean’s office, or just around campus, and that down-to-earth transparency and openness to honest discussion has inspired trust as well as respect among the faculty.

“The committee was equally impressed by the way Gloria combines outstanding research accomplishments in the sciences with an understanding and appreciation of the distinctive value and needs of the humanities, arts, and social sciences. It was important to the committee that the new dean have a broad and supportive vision for Arts & Sciences as a whole, and Gloria embraces that inclusive perspective, with a commitment, for example, to finding ways to increase the profile of the humanities here in a time of decreasing enrollments nationwide. We’re very pleased to have the School of Arts & Sciences in such good hands going forward.”

A professor of biology, Culver joined the Rochester faculty in 2007. Her research centers on the assembly of ribosomal machinery essential for growth of all cells. By focusing on bacterial ribosome, she has contributed to understanding how infections might be controlled through selective inhibition of specific control points of ribosomal assembly, which has implications for reducing harmful bacteria, including “superbugs.” Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the National Science Foundation. She chairs the NIH Molecular Genetics “A” Study Section.

“I am excited and honored to become the next dean of the School of Arts & Sciences,” Culver says. “The disciplines encompassed in the school are at the core of the University. We have an outstanding faculty and amazing environment for research, scholarship, and teaching. I look forward to working with faculty, students and staff to take the school to the next level.”

“My immediate goals are to establish a Humanities Center to foster interdisciplinary work and an Institute for the Performing Arts to encourage River Campus undergraduates to participate in music, dance, and theater.  Both of these initiatives are critical for faculty and student recruitment, retention and scholarship.”

Before coming to Rochester, Culver served as assistant and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology at Iowa State University. She received a PhD in biochemistry from Rochester in 1994, after earning a bachelor’s degree in 1988 from Ithaca College.

Lennie thanked all who interviewed candidates and participated in the search process, including the search committee, Board of Trustees chair Ed Hajim ’58, the president’s cabinet, AS&E department chairs, AS&E faculty council, representative student leaders, diversity and AS&E administrative staff, and the AS&E National Council, chaired by trustee Nomi Bergman ’85.

“They all gave generously of their time, and the process benefitted greatly from their thoughtful comments,” he says.

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