Almost a year removed from the hiring of the previous dean, Valdosta State University has found a new dean for the College of Science and Mathematics in Dr. Keith Walters.
Walters works as the current chair of the chemistry department at Northern Kentucky University, a position he has held for seven years, but he’s had his eye on VSU for a while.
He would often pass by on his way to the University of Florida, where he received his degree in chemistry. According to Walters, he was “intrigued of being at a new college with new leadership” and being part of a more tight-knit group.
The integration of math and science as one college also influenced his decision to come to VSU, as well as wanting to relocate to be closer to his parents who live in the Deep South. Originally VSU had other plans for the department’s dean.
Last spring, VSU administration thought it had completed its task of finding a new president for the College of Mathematics and Science.
The newly created college resulted from the decision to split the College of Arts and Sciences into two colleges. But when it came time for the college’s launch, the newly hired dean wasn’t there.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the would-be dean backed out from assuming the position. This left VSU with yet another hole to fill and only a month from the July 1 date of the college’s official launch.
Since filling a position is not a matter to be taken lightly, Dr. James LaPlant was named interim dean. In the meantime, VSU went on yet another search to find Mr. Right for the newly formed college.
LaPlant said there was nothing out of the ordinary that occurred for the previously hired dean to back out. Instead, he offered that things just didn’t work out and that everything happens for a reason.
In addition to LaPlant being the interim dean for the college, he was the head of the search committee charged with finding the first official dean. He remarked that the search committee was “well-constructed and well-equipped.”
He also joked that it wasn’t because he was in charge but because he had “outstanding people working alongside him” to help find the best person.
LaPlant was pleased that the kind of person they were looking for rose to the top of the “strong pool of applicants,” adding that this is a great fit for Walters.
As a genuine scientist, Walters is confident in dealing with challenges and opportunities, plus he comes from a similar regional comprehensive university.
Ecstatic for his new role as dean, he said that it “really means something to be part of a more narrow, concentrated college.”
Walters looks forward to seeing how the departments connect with students and hopes to bring students and administration closer together to forge an identity.
Written by Grant Palmer, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Northern Kentucky University.
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