Chemistry professor Greg Van Patten has been selected to be interim dean for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences at Middle Tennessee State University by Provost Mark Byrnes, who made the announcement Thursday, July 1.
Van Patten, 51, spent nine years as chair of the Department of Chemistry and will now lead the college during the university’s national search for a new permanent dean. From a list of nominees, Byrnes chose Van Patten to replace Bud Fischer, who championed the new Science Building that opened in 2014 and will soon become Western Kentucky University’s provost.
“Greg has done a fine job leading a large and complicated department and has also chaired the (43-member) Chairs Council. I have great confidence in his ability to do this job,” Byrnes said.
Along with chemistry, the college includes aerospace, agriculture, biology, computer science, concrete and construction management, engineering technology, geosciences, mathematical sciences, military science and physicsand astronomy.
“I’m excited about it (the opportunity),” Van Patten said of the one-year appointment. “Now, I will have a wider focus. I’ll be looking at different things and how all these fit together — for the rest of the university, community and state. In recent weeks, I’ve been adjusting my thinking that way.”
“My goals for the coming year are really to maintain and continue our momentum started by Dean Fischer,” Van Patten added. “I want to make sure our students continue to reach their goals with career placement or graduate and professional schools. I want to continue building our research output and I want to make sure people around the state — our state leaders, our alumni and friends, our teachers and counselors and prospective students — are all aware of the great things happening here at MTSU.”
As Chemistry Department chair, Van Patten said he has “witnessed great accomplishments resulting from the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty and staff” from throughout the entire college. “It’s all about student success — encouraging our students to aim high and then helping them reach those goals. … We have a number of signature programs and we have been working vigorously on student success.”
Van Patten said Fischer has “done a fabulous job over the past nine years, positioning us as a college and building enrollment, building buildings and building research output at a time when other universities have had a difficult time.
“Under Dean Fischer we have significantly improved our research grant activity. We’ve grown into the biggest college within the university, and he’s responsible for it. We’ve worked hard on undergraduate admissions recruiting, development (fundraising) and alumni relations. I hope I can continue to keep moving (the college) in that direction.”
MTSU will begin its national search for a permanent dean this fall. Van Patten said he plans to apply.
Related to the transition:
- Andrienne Friedli, longtime professor and administrator, will become interim Chemistry Department chair.
- Chaminda Prelis will be the new Department of Aerospace chair, replacing Wendy Beckman, who wanted to return to the classroom after serving in interim and permanent capacities since 2015. Prelis has been director of aviation programs at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.
- Ken Currie, chair and professor of Industrial & Management Systems Engineering at West Virginia University, was selected as the chair in Engineering Technology, effective Aug. 1. He replaces Vishwas Bedekar, who served as interim chair and will return to the classroom. Engineering technology features mechatronics engineering and other programs.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)