December 12, 2007

Julia Wetstein takes on new role in science college

by Tim Crosby


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CARBONDALE, Ill. — A woman with deep roots in the Southern Illinois University Carbondale system is the new assistant dean in the College of Science.

Julia A. Wetstein is a two-degree graduate and longtime employee at SIUC. She will assist Dean Jay C. Means in the business and academic affairs of the college.

A Carmi native, Wetstein said she will help Means as the college works to improve communication with alumni, student recruitment and retention, research funding and scholarship opportunities.

"The research and scholarship opportunities here for students are great," she said. "We want to work on making them even better."

Wetstein earned a bachelor's degree in theater at SIUC in 1985, and while pursuing her degree, she met fellow theater student and future husband, Mark J. Wetstein. He works as a television production coordinator for the SIUC Broadcasting Service.

After graduation, Wetstein went to work for the University in 1991 at the SIU Foundation. She became assistant dean at the College of Agricultural Sciences in 1997 and remained in that college until beginning her new duties in the College of Science this fall.

Along the way, Wetstein returned to SIUC as a student, earning a master's of business administration in 1991. She currently is working on a second master's degree in economics.

Her new position will see Wetstein playing several roles, including the regional director of the Illinois Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, a statewide competition for high school science students hosted annually at SIUC. This year's symposium is set for March 30-April 1 and Wetstein is already far along with planning the event and inviting students, teachers and parents from all across the state.

Wetstein also will work on making the college's scholarship program more user-friendly. She recently coordinated placing scholarship application forms online on the college's Web site, which she hopes will encourage more students to apply for funding.

Wetstein said early projections for enrollment in the college look good for next year, but recruitment and retention will remain a high priority. As part of that effort, she will focus on communicating the college's success story to the community and alumni.

"With our research productivity growing we want to make sure the community understands the many advances that are happening right here on campus," Wetstein said. "There's a huge benefit to taxpayers here."

Wetstein is investigating new, more efficient ways to stay in contact with alumni, examining approaches such as email blasts and electronic newsletters to do so. "We want to communicate more frequently, but with less expense," she said.

She is also assisting with projects aimed at updating facilities. One such effort involves making the large atrium area on the north side of the Neckers building into a wi-fi area, enabling students to use the Internet in the popular study area.

"We're doing everything we can to improve the environment to make our students come here and want to stay here," she said.

Wetstein said she also is working on an effort to get science faculty involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale, an organization she helped found, as mentors.