Pitzer College Appoints New Dean of Faculty

Muriel Poston
Muriel Poston

Claremont, Calif. (August 13, 2012) — Pitzer College appoints Muriel E. Poston as the College’s 13th dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs beginning fall 2012.

A plant biologist with an interest in environmental studies, Poston served as the dean of the faculty at Skidmore College from 2005-11 and as acting vice president of academic affairs from 2011-12. During her tenure as dean, Poston worked with colleagues to develop a new vision for science education that involved integrating disparate perspectives from across the physical, life and social sciences, as well as the introduction of a new writing requirement within all majors. She recruited more than 20 percent of the current tenure track faculty and implemented a new tenure track faculty appointment program. Under her leadership, Skidmore saw a rise in diversity in both the faculty and the student body.

Most recently as the division director for human resource development in the Education and Human Resources Directorate at National Science Foundation (NSF), Poston led eight NSF programs that explicitly focus on supporting minority-serving institutions and under-represented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“I am honored to have been selected to serve the Pitzer College community as the dean of faculty and am excited to work with colleagues committed to academic excellence,” said Poston. “I look forward to being a part of an institution where students and faculty share a passion for social responsibility, intercultural understanding and environmental sustainability.

Poston was a faculty member in the biology/botany department at Howard University in Washington DC for more than 20 years. She has also served as the deputy division director for the NSF’s Division of Biological Infrastructure.

Her expertise in plant systematics, environmental law and environmental policy has taken her across the globe from Namibia to Suriname, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic on research expeditions. Poston has received myriad research and academic grants including ones from the NSF, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Smithsonian Institution. She has authored dozens of articles in publications such as Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, Plant Science Bulletin and ACADEME. Poston currently serves on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Poston earned her BA from Stanford University, and her MA and PhD degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles. She also holds a JD degree from the University of Maryland.

She succeeds Alan Jones who is retiring after 11 years as dean. Jones will rejoin the faculty following a year of epigenetic research, examining how environmental events can impact genetics and influence inheritance.

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