WWU Hires Catherine Clark as new dean of College of Sciences and Technology

Catherine Clark has been hired to serve as dean of the College of Sciences and Technology at Western Washington University, Provost Brent Carbajal announced today.

“Dr. Clark brings a wealth of administrative, scholarly, and academic experience to the College of Sciences and Technology and to Western. We look forward to working with her and to the leadership she will provide the college at this important and exciting time. She is very well informed of national discussions pertaining to STEM education and understands the importance of collaboration with industry and other outside constituents in supporting the education we offer our students,” Carbajal said.

Clark, the former associate dean of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University in Orange, California, was hired following a national search and will succeed Jeff Wright, who is retiring as CST dean.

“I am excited and honored to be joining Western Washington University as the new dean of the College of Science and Technology. The high quality, commitment and engagement of the faculty, staff and students at Western really impressed and inspired me when I visited,” Clark said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with the provost, deans and college to support, strengthen and grow interdisciplinary programs, faculty-mentored student research and community partnerships.”

A first-generation college student originally from Durban, South Africa, Clark received her doctorate in Physical Chemistry from Boston University, specializing in laser-based studies of aquatic photochemistry. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Natal in South Africa in Chemistry in 1988. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship and research scientist position at the Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami.

As associate dean, Clark’s leadership was called upon to help build Chapman’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES) from scratch, utilizing a diverse group of faculty from interdisciplinary departments that encompassed research in plant ecology, animal behavior, geochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, remote sensing, earth science, computational science and molecular biology, among others.

Under her leadership at SEES, she oversaw more than 50 faculty members, technicians, and administrative personnel; those faculty were responsible for more than 60 percent of the grants and 50 percent of the publications in Chapman’s Schmid College.

Clark has a strong record of developing and supporting interdisciplinary programs and collaboration, leading program review and accreditation, building partnerships with local businesses and community members, advocating successfully for program resources, leading organizational change and fundraising for both research and academic programs.

She is past chair of Chapman’s Department of Physical Sciences, and her current research focuses on pollutants and carbon cycling in natural water systems.

Carbajal thanked retiring Dean Jeff Wright for his service to Western.

“We are thankful for the leadership and vision that Dean Jeff Wright provided the college. Having worked with him as a colleague dean and now as provost, I can attest to the fact that he prioritized academic quality and worked hard to support it. We appreciate his service and wish him the best in his retirement,” Carbajal said.

CST includes academic departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Technology, Geology, Mathematics and Physics/Astronomy; the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education program; the Vehicle Research Institute, and the Advanced Materials Science and Technology Development  centers.