June 11, 2007

Trustees to vote on new College of Science dean

by Tim Crosby


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Jay C. Means, a leading environmental researcher now working at Western Michigan University, is on track to become the next dean of the College of Science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The SIU Board of Trustees will consider Means' appointment during its meeting June 14 at SIUC.

A search committee selected Means from a field of four finalists, all of who visited campus and met with faculty, staff and students this spring. If approved by the board, Means will succeed Jack Parker, who retired last year.

Professor James Tyrrell is serving as interim dean. Means would begin his duties July 1 if approved by the board.

Means is associate director of the Environmental Research Center at WMU. He earned his bachelor of science in education, master of arts in food chemistry and doctorate in food chemistry at the University of Illinois. He also holds a master of arts degree in curriculum development from Concordia Teacher's College.

His areas of professional expertise include environmental chemistry of trace organics, trace metals and organometallics in sediment-water systems, analytical biochemistry, organic geochemistry, genetic toxicology, mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis and small fish tumor models, among others.

Means holds an endowed professorship of environmental chemistry at WMU, where he also is a professor of environmental chemistry and biological sciences. He has more than 35 years of experience at the collegiate level as a teacher, researcher, professor and administrator.

As an administrator along with his current position, Means served from 1997 to 2002 as chairman of the Department of Chemistry at WMU. He also served from 1996 to 1997 as coordinator — a position equivalent to chairman — of the Interdepartmental Program in Toxicology at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and on the executive committee of the All-Campus Graduate Program in Toxicology at the University of Maryland System from 1986 to 1987.

Means said the opportunity and challenges of the dean's position at SIUC, with its overall research funding and science college organization, initially attracted him to the University.

"(A College of Science) has the advantage that all of the units within the college are equally focused upon the task of integrating research into the overall academic mission of the college including both undergraduate and graduate education," Means said. "Secondly, I was attracted to SIUC because it serves the educational needs of a diverse population of students from within Illinois — my home state — the U.S. and many foreign countries around the world. This means to me that the institution provides a very rich learning environment where many cultural, ethnic and belief systems are represented.

"Third, it was an opportunity for me to take the leadership of a group of talented faculty and facilitate their progress in moving the college forward into an increasingly important role in advancing the academic standing of SIUC in the state and in the region."

Means said he will focus on meeting each faculty member, learning what they teach, their research programs and what excites and motivates them. He then wants to size up the strengths and weaknesses of each unit and their goals.

"I need to learn how the system works at SIUC, how to get things done on a day-to-day basis," Means said. "Finally, but not at all least in importance, I want to get to know a cross-section of students enrolled in the curricula of the college in order to get their perspective on how well SIUC is meeting their needs and catalyzing their aspirations."

SIUC Interim Chancellor John M. Dunn said Means was the best choice for the job.

"We are very pleased to attract a candidate of Dr. Means' caliber," Dunn said. "The College of Science is integral to the continuing success of the University and we are confident that Dr. Means will serve the college and the University well. The search process was very thorough and conducted extremely well, and we are very pleased with the search committee and its success in helping us identify an excellence candidate."

The College of Science at SIUC includes nine departments and several other programs offering 14 undergraduate, 11 master's degree programs and seven doctorate programs.