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David Leaman named College of Arts and Sciences dean

January 27, 2014
David Leaman

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. David Leaman has been named the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire following a national search. Leaman will join UW-Eau Claire July 1.

Leaman currently is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and an associate professor of political science at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He will replace Dr. David Baker, who has served as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since May 2012.

As dean of UW-Eau Claire's College of Arts and Sciences, Leaman will serve as the intellectual and administrative leader of the college, be the chief advocate for the college's academic programs, and promote scholarly and creative activities of the college's faculty and academic staff. He will report directly to the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, and will provide liberal education leadership at UW-Eau Claire and in the broader academic community.

Leaman is committed to the mission of colleges of arts and sciences at public universities, said Dr. Kate Lang, associate professor and chair of the department of history and a member of the search committee that recommended Leaman.

"Dr. Leaman is an award-winning teacher and energetic administrator who sees opportunities in the challenges faced by colleges of arts and sciences," Lang said. "I am very excited to welcome him as dean. I think he will be able to move the college forward in important ways."

As associate dean at NEIU, Leaman is part of a leadership team that oversees 30 academic programs that collectively generate approximately 75 percent of student credit hours at NEIU. He serves as his college's liaison with NEIU's Office of Institutional Advancement and with leaders of its College of Graduate Studies and Research, and has been integrally involved in his college's work to serve and celebrate students and faculty, encourage high-impact practices, and protect and advance the mission of NEIU, which he says is nationally recognized for the cultural diversity of its student body, for the number of degrees granted to members of historically minority groups and for the "best investment" it offers students.

"I was attracted to UW-Eau Claire because of its deep and enduring commitment to high-impact educational practices such as faculty-student collaborative research, service-learning, intercultural immersion experiences and learning communities," Leaman said. "The educationally progressive academic culture that has been cultivated and sustained at UW-Eau Claire over time is a first-class model for others to emulate."

Dr. Jefford Vahlbusch, University Honors Program director, professor of German and a member of the dean search committee, said it was evident from Leaman's interviews that he believes liberal education is the foundation of healthy democracies and that strong colleges of arts and sciences are crucial to liberal education.

"Dr. Leaman is smart, experienced in the administration of large colleges of arts and sciences, and committed to dialogue and consensus," Vahlbusch said. "He is comfortable with complexity, really does his homework and is devoted to thinking together about difficult issues."

Leaman is committed to the relevance of an outstanding liberal education in today's society and economy, said Dr. Mary Hoffman, professor and chair of the communication and journalism department and a member of the dean search committee.

"He clearly understands the challenges and opportunities facing higher education and enthusiastically seeks ways to meet them that uphold the values of liberal education," Hoffman said. "He will bring experienced, knowledgeable and energetic leadership to the college. He listens with care and enthusiasm to students and to faculty, and is committed to fostering excellent teaching and engaged student learning."

Leaman said continued focus on educational practices that result in success for students from all backgrounds and on diversity will be among his goals as arts and sciences dean.

"One of my major goals is to safeguard and continually renew the high-impact educational practices that make UW-Eau Claire so special," Leaman said. "Another major goal is to support the strategic plan aim of continuing to increase the cultural diversity of UW-Eau Claire students and faculty. I am very eager to help to reach out and strengthen relationships with communities of color and growing immigrant communities in Wisconsin and beyond."

Leaman has a deep commitment and respect for the core values and academic traditions that continue to make UW-Eau Claire distinctive, said Dr. Patricia A. Kleine, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. He also is known on his campus for celebrating the achievements of faculty, staff and students.

"Likewise, our College of Arts and Sciences has much to celebrate as it continues to engage in such areas as liberal education core reform, internationalization and global engagement, and undergraduate student research," Kleine said. "Dr. Leaman also will be central to the college setting its vision for the future."

Leaman joined NEIU in 1996 as a political science faculty member and earned university Faculty Excellence Awards for Teaching in 1999 and 2004. At NEIU, he served as co-director of the Learning Communities Program from 2002-04, chair of the political science department from 2006-11, and College of Arts and Sciences associate dean since January 2012.

Leaman received his bachelor's degree in history from Goshen College in Indiana, and his master's and doctoral degrees in government from Cornell University.

Dr. David Baker, who has served as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since May 2012, will step down when Leaman joins UW-Eau Claire in July.



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