After two years as interim dean, Paul Wahlbeck will become the permanent leader of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
The search for a new dean began after former CCAS Dean Ben Vinson resigned in 2018 to serve as provost and executive vice president of Case Western Reserve University, but the search was put on hold in 2019 as officials were searching for a replacement for former Provost Forrest Maltzman. Wahlbeck was a “top candidate” for the position prior to Provost Brian Blake’s arrival and has “strong support” from CCAS department heads, Blake said in an interview.
Blake said he spoke to CCAS department heads in March to help make his final decision, which he had to delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he hoped to have a decision ready by early July, at the beginning of the fiscal year, but managing campus operations in light of the pandemic delayed him.
“I think he has a breadth of knowledge around the institution, around the college, that’s amazing and makes me feel comfortable as a provost to have him as a partner,” Blake said.
He said Wahlbeck will be able to focus on long-term strategic planning for CCAS now as the permanent leader of the school to “set it apart” from other colleges of arts and sciences at other universities.
“This is where I think he will really shine,” Blake said.
As interim dean, Wahlbeck has overseen “innovative” new programs supporting collaboration between STEM and non-STEM faculty and a “framework” for short-term study abroad opportunities, a University release states.
“I’m thrilled to be leading Columbian College forward and working with my colleagues as we pursue our aspirations as a preeminent research institution,” Wahlbeck said in the release. “My ties to the college are strong and deep, as is my admiration for the people who are committed to ensuring we succeed in our mission to advance excellence and opportunity.”