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Release: Immediate

Linda Maxson named dean of UI College of Liberal Arts

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Linda Ellen Resnick Maxson has been named dean of the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts. Her appointment, which will take effect in July, was announced by UI Provost Jon Whitmore.

"Dr. Maxson will provide superb leadership for the College of Liberal Arts," Whitmore said. "She has added great value to the universities she has led. She brought innovative ideas to the restructuring of undergraduate education at the University of Tennessee, and she built an outstanding biology department at Penn State. We expect her to bring the same creative energy to her role as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Iowa."

"I'm just delighted with the opportunity to come to the University of Iowa to work with President Coleman, Provost Whitmore, the faculty and students," Maxson said. "This is an exciting and pivotal time for the College, and I am confident that working together, we can accomplish a great deal. I'm eager to get started."

During her on-campus interviews, Maxson noted that research universities such as the UI "offer an opportunity for students and faculty to join in the excitement of learning." It must be the university's goal to make students "life-long learners and to transform their lives so they can contribute to society," she said.

Maxson comes to the UI from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she has been associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate academic affairs since 1995. She also holds an academic appointment as professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. As associate vice chancellor, she has been involved in the revision of the faculty handbook, the creation of a promotion and tenure workbook for new faculty, and the development of a Center for Undergraduate Excellence that includes a reorganized honors program and a new approach to the general education program as well as several new initiatives aimed at freshman retention and success.

From 1988 to 1995, she was professor and head of the department of biology at Penn State University, where she established the Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Biology. Before joining the faculty at Penn State, she was on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, from 1974 to 1988. While at Illinois, she founded and then directed the Chancellor's Honors Program, served as executive officer of biology programs in the School of Life Sciences, and was curator of amphibians and reptiles at the University's Museum of Natural History. She has also taught as an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, and at San Diego State University.

Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Research Board of the University of Illinois. While at Penn State, she was primary investigator for a five-year, $1.2 million Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Initiative and obtained a four-year, $1 million renewal of that grant. At Tennessee, she was recently awarded a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to revitalize general education.

Maxson's current professional activities include serving as executive editor of the journal "Biochemical Systematics and Ecology." She is also a research associate with the Smithsonian Institute, a member of the steering committee of the Evolutionary Biology Working Group, and a member of the Council of the International Society of Biochemical Systematics.

She was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1985, received the Distinguished Alumna Award from San Diego State University in 1989, and the Distinguished Herpetologist Award from the Herpetologists' League in 1993.

Maxson earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from San Diego State University in 1964 and was a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow at the University of California, La Jolla, in 1965. She earned a master's degree in biology from San Diego State in 1966 and a doctorate in genetics in 1973 through a joint doctoral program with San Diego State and the University of California, Berkeley.

She will take the reins of the largest college within the UI, with about 16,000 students and 650 tenure-track faculty in 42 departments and professional schools. The College of Liberal Arts administers the General Education Program for virtually all undergraduate students and offers undergraduate degrees in 57 fields. It also offers graduate programs enrolling 3,000 students in 45 fields.

The dean of the College of Liberal Arts exercises intellectual leadership and executive authority for the college and represents the college in its relations with UI administrators and with alumni and other external constituencies.

Maxson succeeds Judith Aikin, who is stepping down from that position to return to the faculty as of July 1.

6/4/97