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Keen Named Interim Dean; France New Associate Dean; Provost Search Underway

Suzanne H. Keen, the Thomas Broadus Professor of English, has been appointed to a two-year term as interim dean of the College at Washington and Lee University, effective July 1.

Keen succeeds Hank Dobin, who served as dean of the College for seven years and will return to the faculty in the 2013-14 academic year following a sabbatical leave.

“I am delighted that Suzanne Keen has accepted this appointment,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Throughout her career at W&L, she has served with distinction on several of the University’s key committees, and both Interim Provost Bob Strong and I look forward to working with her and with the College faculty as we make this important transition and move ahead with new initiatives.”

A distinguished scholar of the English novel and a gifted teacher, Keen is chair of the English Department. She is a member of the Courses and Degrees Committee, which she will now chair, and is an elected faculty representative to the Board of Trustees. She has also served on the Advisory Committee, which reviews tenure and promotion cases. In 2008, she received the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.

Keen, who has taught at W&L since 1995, holds an A.B. in English literature and studio art and an A.M. in creative writing from Brown University, and an A.M. and Ph.D. in English language and literature from Harvard University. She taught at Yale from 1990 to 1995. During the summers of 2003 through 2010, she served on the faculty of the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.

She is the author of “Empathy and the Novel” (2007), “Narrative Form” (2003), “Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction” (2001) and “Victorian Renovations of the Novel: Narrative Annexes and the Boundaries of Representation (1998). She has also published a book of poetry, “Milk Glass Mermaid” (2007).

“I appreciate the important contributions that Dean Dobin made during his tenure as dean,” said Ruscio, noting that Dobin helped guide the implementation of new general education requirements and the revamped Spring Term.

Dobin joined W&L as dean in August 2005 after serving nine years as associate dean of the college at Princeton University. He received a B.A. from Yale University in philosophy and psychology and a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University. He taught English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he chaired the College Park Campus Senate 1993–1994. He joined Princeton as associate dean in 1996.

Under Dobin’s leadership at W&L, the College restructured the First-Year Writing Program; implemented minors; introduced the First-Year Seminar Program; undertook curricular initiatives in teacher education and dance; and expanded resources for faculty summer research. He worked on the Colonnade restoration project; reorganized the Office of the Dean of the College; and helped attract resources for College programs and facilities. Dobin will use the sabbatical in the 2012-13 academic year to re-start several scholarly and creative projects.

France Named Associate Dean

Marcia France, the Herwick Professor of Chemistry at Washington and Lee University, is the new associate dean of the College, beginning July 1. She succeeds Alison Bell, who has held that post since 2010 and is returning to the classroom as an associate professor of archaeology.

France, who teaches organic chemistry, arrived at W&L in 1994. She holds an S.B. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in chemistry from Yale University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. She helped develop and serves as co-director of W&L’s partnership with the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, which provides a study-abroad opportunity for W&L students studying science and preparing to enter a health profession. She also has taught the Science of Cooking course in Italy. France is active in the University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, having served in several posts, including president. She will serve a four-year term as associate dean.

“I am really looking forward to serving W&L in this new capacity,” said France. “While I will miss teaching, I will enjoy working with a larger number of students from all the disciplines in the College. I know I will face many challenges, but the job will also provide me with valuable experience. W&L has given me a lot in the time I have been on the faculty, and I hope that I can give back to the University by taking on this role.”

The associate dean of the College focuses on academic performance and support, collaborating when appropriate with the Office of Student Affairs. The associate dean also coordinates fellowship applications.

Provost Search Committee Named

Brian Murchison, the Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law, has been named to chair the search committee to select a new provost, replacing June Aprille who retired in June 2011.

The goal is to bring finalists to campus for interviews in early 2013 and to have a provost named next spring.

In addition to Murchison, the complete is composed of Michael Anderson, professor of economics; Marc Conner, professor of English; Blair Hixon Davis, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1994 and a member of the board of trustees; Jonathan Eastwood, associate professor of sociology; Rebecca Harris, associate professor of politics; Erin Hutchinson, senior associate director of admissions; Shana Levine, associate director of athletics for compliance; Karla Murdock, associate professor of psychology; and Caroline Osborne, director of law library and professor of legal research.

Valerie Cushman, senior assistant to the president, will provide administrative support, and the committee will be assisted by the Washington, D.C., search firm, Isaacson, Miller.