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Searches Begin for UW Honors Dean, AVP for Graduate Education

April 26, 2017

Searches are beginning for key administrative positions in the University of Wyoming’s Office of Academic Affairs.

Provost Kate Miller says she expects to attract excellent candidates from within the university for the job of dean/director of the Honors Program, expected to soon become the Honors College; and for the position of associate vice provost for graduate education.

The elevation of the Honors Program, led by a director, to an Honors College, led by a dean, will go before the UW Board of Trustees at its May meeting. Appointments to these positions are subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.

The current Honors Program at UW offers a unique set of opportunities for around 900 high-achieving, academically ambitious undergraduates. It is structured as a minor with a specialized curriculum. After several studies of the program over the past several years, including in-depth internal and external reviews, the provost has committed to growing and enhancing the program to an Honors College led by a dean.

The dean will provide the vision and leadership to structure a formal experiential learning portfolio and will work with faculty to expand the curriculum to tap into the opportunity for students to pursue an honors credential in their disciplines. There is significant room for expansion of the number and disciplines of students served by Honors, and the leader of the new enterprise will work collaboratively across campus and with external stakeholders to make the Honors College a hallmark of UW excellence.

An Office of Graduate Education will be created within Academic Affairs, with increased staffing support to strengthen services to graduate programs and support for graduate students. The new associate vice provost (AVP) will lead development and hiring to fill key positions in the restructuring. To support the university’s mission and strategic plan, the AVP for graduate education will guide resource allocations to graduate programs and facilitate marketing, assessment, enrollment, retention, institutional teaching capacity, graduate student diversity and academic success.

Small search advisory committees are being assembled to review applicants for the positions.

The search for the dean/director of the Honors Program/College will be led by Steven F. Barrett, associate dean for academic programs in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and professor of electrical and computer engineering. Barrett has a long history of participation in the Honors Program.

The search for an associate vice provost for graduate education will be led by Benjamin Rashford, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics, and chair of UW’s Graduate Council.

Applications from faculty members with tenure or extended-term appointments are welcome for the Honors College dean position. Applicants for the position of associate vice provost for graduate education are expected to be tenured and members of the graduate faculty. A description of the responsibilities and qualifications for each position can be found at Faculty members interested in applying for these positions each should submit a letter of interest and a CV by email to or, as appropriate, by May 26.

Susan Aronstein, interim director of the Honors Program, will step down from that position, effective Aug. 31, after serving in that capacity since 2014. She will return to her faculty position as a professor in the Department of English, which she joined in 1987.

During her time as director, Aronstein orchestrated the hiring of the first tenure-track faculty member fully in the Honors Program, Nina McConigley, and worked collaboratively across campus to stabilize the instructional delivery of the Honors Freshman Colloquium. She also completed the initial self-study of the Honors Program in 2014; brought in external reviewers in 2015; and assisted in the internal review later that year. She has worked with several donors to strengthen the program’s scholarship funding.

“We are grateful to Dr. Aronstein for her excellent leadership of the Honors Program during a critical period,” Miller says. “We expect her successor will build upon the strong foundation laid by Dr. Aronstein and others to raise the program’s profile, allowing us to attract, retain and add value to the experiences of some of our finest students and faculty at an even higher level than we do now.”

Ann Hild, interim associate vice provost for graduate education, has accepted participation in the university’s Voluntary Separation Incentive Program and will step down effective Aug. 17. She has served in that position since 2014, working closely with the Graduate Council and deans to revise graduate policy and facilitate reviews of admission, recruiting and program reporting for graduate programs on campus.

In 2014, Hild led creation of underrepresented domestic diversity competitive grant graduate assistant positions that have expanded the diversity of applicants for graduate assistantships, and she has stretched existing funds to support a broader array of graduate students campuswide.

As a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Hild has led research into the impacts of invasive species on shrub land and grassland ecosystems, wildlife habitat, and restoration seedings on wildland fire and anthropogenic disturbance sites throughout the Intermountain West.

“Dr. Hild has been instrumental in setting the stage for a return to a Graduate School at the university, and making graduate education an even higher priority at the institution,” Miller says. “We appreciate her dedication to graduate education at UW and her service in the Office of Academic Affairs while maintaining robust research activity in her field of expertise.”

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