James W.C. White, acting dean and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder and a highly cited and internationally recognized researcher in climate science, has been appointed dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, effective July 1, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Provost and Chief Academic Officer J. Christopher Clemens announced in a campus message May 17.
White brings more than 30 years of experience in academia, a demonstrated history of collaborative leadership and a commitment to providing students with a well-rounded liberal arts degree that prepares them for an evolving workforce, the message continued.
Leading with a vision of how the education and research offered at a public university can benefit society, White reimagined the college’s work to recruit in-state students from underrepresented groups. As acting dean, he oversaw an administrative reorganization with the goal of better serving nearly 17,000 undergraduate students. He created and launched a partnership between CU-Boulder and leading Native American degree-granting institutions in Colorado to enhance undergraduate experiences and establish a supportive community. Under White’s leadership, the college more than doubled the total financial gifts received, further enabling it to meet present and anticipated student and faculty needs.
In four and a half years as acting dean, White bolstered the college’s representation of a diverse faculty. During his tenure, 50% of senior academic leaders in the college identified as women and more than half the faculty identify as being from underrepresented groups, including 20% Black and 20% Latino. Heeding recommendations from faculty, White created the first-ever associate dean for inclusive practice at the college.
Prior to serving as acting dean, White was director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. He taught as an assistant professor, associate professor and full professor in geological sciences and environmental studies program at CU-Boulder before taking the role of environmental studies program director. His research has focused on historical measurements of the Earth’s climate system and the evidence for rapid climate change in the past. At Carolina, his faculty appointment will be in the department of earth, marine and environmental sciences. White earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Florida State University. He also earned a master of philosophy and doctorate degree in geological sciences from Columbia University. He was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014.
White will take the helm as the inaugural Craver Family Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences just as the College launches its new IDEAs in Action curriculum this fall, a curriculum for which White expressed great enthusiasm during his campus visit. Years in the making, IDEAs in Action empowers students to design their own academic journey while providing a fundamental foundation that prepares them not only for a Carolina education but also for future success as leaders, creative problem-solvers, lifelong learners and engaged citizens. The College is the third-largest research enterprise on campus, securing $127 million in research funding last year. To date, the College has raised $686 million toward its $750 million goal within the University’s historic $4.25 billion Campaign for Carolina.
“White’s leadership experience, commitment to research and innovation and staunch advocacy of the importance of a liberal arts education make him well positioned to lead the College into its next era,” Guskiewicz and Clemens wrote.
In their message, the leaders thanked the members of the search committee, chaired by Bernadette Gray-Little, former executive vice chancellor and provost, for their work to bring White to Carolina.
“We also want to acknowledge and celebrate Dean Terry Rhodes for her commitment to the College and 35-year career of teaching and service to the University. Terry taught countless students while at Carolina and was always a champion for diversity and the arts and humanities in the many leadership roles she held,” they wrote. “She moved the College forward as both an interim dean for one year and dean of the College for the last two years.
“Please join us in thanking Bernadette and Terry and welcoming Jim to Carolina.”