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Published October 21, 2019
The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has approved the appointment of interim deans for the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Cameron Wright, professor of electrical and computer engineering, was appointed to serve as interim dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science following the resignation of Dean Michael Pishko Sept. 30 for health-related reasons. The appointment begins immediately.
Doug Wachob, senior lecturer and director of academic programs in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, was appointed to serve as the school’s interim dean beginning Jan. 1, succeeding Dean Melinda Harm Benson.
“I appreciate Cam Wright and Doug Wachob for stepping forward to assume interim leadership while we search for permanent deans in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources,” says Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kate Miller. “Both are highly regarded among their peers at UW and beyond. I look forward to working with each of them to ensure consistent and steady leadership for their units in the months to come.”
Wright’s areas of expertise are image processing, signal processing, biomedical instrumentation, real-time embedded computer systems, and wireless and satellite communications. He is director of the Wyoming Information, Signal Processing and Robotics Laboratory.
In addition to his exceptional research record, Wright has been the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in teaching. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education; National Society of Professional Engineers; International Society for Optical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering Society; and Rocky Mountain Bioengineering Symposium Board of Directors.
Wright holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas-Austin, an M.S. in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Louisiana Tech University. He served for 30 years in the U.S. military, enlisting in the Navy at the age of 17 and retiring as a lieutenant colonel from the Air Force in 2003.
“I appreciate the confidence and support that Provost Miller has shown in me to step into this new role,” Wright says. “I look forward to being a positive influence on the College of Engineering and Applied Science as we all work together -- faculty, staff, everyone -- to provide a superlative education for our students, engage in meaningful research and perform service to our state, our country and our professions. It’s an exciting time for all of us to be a part of the college and the university.”
Throughout his career, Wachob has focused on conservation, training educators to use the outdoors as an effective educational environment, and educating students about the natural world, science, wild landscapes and wildlife. Before joining the faculty of the Haub School, he was associate executive director at Teton Science Schools. During his time there, he directed the Teton Research Institute, Graduate Program, Development and Communications, and Property Management divisions. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in ecology, sustainability, natural resource management and education. He was recently the director of conservation for the Alaska Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Wachob holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in zoology and physiology from UW, and a B.S. in zoology from the University of Minnesota.
“I am very pleased to be leading the innovative Haub School team as acting dean,” Wachob says. “We intend to continue on the outstanding trajectory that Mindy Benson has established for the Haub School.”
Pishko announced in September that he would step down Sept. 30 and return to the College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty, citing health-related reasons. Pishko’s tenure as dean began in March 2015 and was marked by a number of significant accomplishments. Most recently, he oversaw the completion of the $105 million Engineering Education and Research Building. The new facility, which opened this summer, expands the college’s and university’s inventory of cutting-edge teaching and research space. He launched new academic programs in construction management, cybersecurity and process control, as well as new research centers of excellence in produced water, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and bioengineering. He also reestablished the petroleum engineering department.
Benson recently announced her resignation as dean of the Haub School, effective at the end of the fall semester. She began her service as dean in August 2017. Benson has been responsible for significant and strategic growth in the Haub School. She led a dramatic increase in the faculty of the school during her tenure -- doubling the number of core faculty from 13 to 22 members, including an increase from six tenure-track faculty to 11. She also oversaw an increase in student enrollment in the Haub School, which has doubled since fall 2017 to 439 current students. Among her accomplishments, Benson, in 2018, launched a new degree in outdoor recreation and tourism management, which has enrolled 75 majors in its second year.
The College of Engineering and Applied Science dean search committee will be led by Dean of University Libraries Ivan Gaetz. The search for a new dean for the Haub School will be led by College of Business Dean David Sprott.
In addition to these searches, a search is underway for an executive director of the School of Energy Resources, led by Rocky Mountain Power CEO Cindy Crane. A search for a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will begin in the coming weeks and will be led by College of Health Sciences Dean David Jones. School of Energy Resources Executive Director Mark Northam and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Paula Lutz have announced their intention to retire at the end of the academic year.
“One of the distinct pleasures of working in the academy is the opportunity to serve alongside colleagues who are thoughtful leaders in a wide range of fields of study and university community -- leaders who listen, who question and challenge, and who guide us toward realizing a vision of excellence in service of a shared mission,” Miller says. “I am incredibly grateful to Michael Pishko, Melinda Benson, Paula Lutz and Mark Northam for their service to the University of Wyoming. Their individual contributions to their units, as well as their collective contributions to our university, our students and our graduates, are remarkable, and their positive impact will be felt for many years to come. I hope that you will join me in thanking them for their leadership.”