Trustees approve appointments
May 31, 2001
KALAMAZOO -- The appointments of two associate deans and six department chairpersons were among personnel moves approved by the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees at its May 30 meeting.
The board approved the appointments of Dr. William W. Cobern as professor and associate dean for academic programs in the College of Education, and Dr. Edmund Tsang as associate professor and associate dean for undergraduate programs and assessment in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition, Dr. Leonard Ginsberg, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, was given the added responsibilities of serving as interim director of WMU's new Institute for Science Studies. The appointments are effective July 1.
The board also approved the previously announced appointment of Kenneth J. DeVries as associate vice president for development, effective March 28.
New chairpersons approved by trustees were Dr. Marion W. Gray, professor and chairperson, Department of History; Dr. Bassam Harik, associate professor and chairperson, Department of Economics; Dr. Daniel Mihalko, professor and chairperson, Department of Statistics; Nina Nelson, professor and chairperson, Department of Dance, through June 30, 2002; Dr. Roman Rabiej, professor and chairperson of the Department of Construction Engineering, Materials Engineering and Industrial Design, through June 30, 2002; and Dr. Brian Wilson, associate professor and chairperson of the Department of Comparative Religion. All six appointments are effective July 1.
In addition, the board also approved the naming of Dr. Benjamin Wilson as professor and interim director of the Africana Studies Program, effective Jan. 1, 2001, through June 30, 2002.
Cobern has been an associate professor of science education and coordinator of the elementary school master's program at WMU since 1996. Prior to coming to the University, he held faculty positions in science education at Arizona State University, Austin College in Texas and Judson Baptist College in Oregon. He also has been a visiting professor at Curtin University of Technology in Australia, the University of Auckland in New Zealand and New College Berkeley in California as well as a visiting lecturer in Nigeria. Cobern has served since 1993 as a section editor for the journal Science Education. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1971, a master's degree from San Diego State University in 1975 and a doctoral degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1979.
Tsang comes to WMU from the University of South Alabama, where he has been a faculty member in mechanical engineering since 1980. Prior to that, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at Freie University in Berlin and a faculty member at the University of Nebraska. He also has been a visiting scientist at Ames Laboratory at Iowa State and a visiting scholar at both the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., and the American Society for Engineering Education. During his career, Tsang has been active in curriculum development and laboratory design research as well as in implementing service learning initiatives in engineering education and student recruitment efforts, particularly in the area of underrepresented minorities. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska in 1973 and a doctoral degree from Iowa Sate University in 1977.
Ginsberg has been a faculty member at WMU since 1977 and served as chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1991 until being named associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1996. He will head WMU's new Institute for Science Studies, which was created by board action at the May 30 meeting to consolidate the University's science education degree programs and research and outreach programs.
Gray comes to WMU from Kansas State University, where he has been a faculty member since 1969. A professor of history and women's studies at that university, he has served as acting head of the Department of History several times and as director of undergraduate studies from 1975 to 1984. A European history specialist who focuses on Germany, he is widely published and has received numerous travel and research grants to conduct research and attend conferences abroad. Gray earned a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University in 1964 and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin in 1966 and 1971, respectively. He replaces Dr. Judith Stone, interim chair, who has returned to the faculty.
Harik has been a faculty member since 1979. During the past decade, he has coordinated research that has produced three studies detailing WMU's economic impact on Kalamazoo County. His areas of specialization are money and banking, economic history and development, econometrics and mathematical economics. He also has been a faculty member at Central Michigan University and has worked as a research economist at the Arab African International Bank in Cairo. Harik earned a bachelor's degree from the American University of Beirut in 1970 and master's and doctoral degrees from Wayne State University in 1973 and 1978, respectively. He replaces Dr. Werner Sichel, whose administrative leave and return to the faculty also were approved by the board at the meeting.
Mihalko will take the reins of the new Department of Statistics, created when trustees approved the division of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics earlier this year. He has been a WMU faculty member since 1993 and serves as a consultant to both the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and National City Corp. He also has been a faculty member at the University of Nebraska and a statistician and visiting scholar for the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine. Since 1996, he has served as associate editor for the Journal of the American Statistical Association. Mihalko earned a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University in 1969 and master's and doctoral degrees from Purdue University in 1972 and 1977, respectively.
Nelson has been a faculty member in the Department of Dance since 1982 and served as chairperson from 1988 to 1990. Prior to coming to WMU, she served as guest artist at the University of Iowa, coordinator of the Dance Department at the Ashtabula (Ohio) Arts Center and assistant director of Ballet Western Reserve Inc. in Warren and Youngstown, Ohio. Nelson earned a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1976 and a master of fine arts degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1978. She also holds certification from the Laban Institute of Movement Studies and the Pilates-based Dancer Specific Training Program. She replaces Jane Baas, whose return to the faculty also was approved by trustees.
Rabiej, a faculty member since 1987, has served as interim chairperson of his department since 1999. Previously, he was a senior research scientist with Franklin International in Columbus, Ohio, and a faculty member at Warsaw Agricultural University in Poland. A wood science specialist, he also has worked in the Furniture Research Center at Purdue University and served as an invited visiting scientist at several universities in Eastern Europe. Rabiej also has industrial experience in Finland and Sweden and holds several patents both in Poland and the United States. He earned a bachelor's degree in Lomza, Poland, in 1960 and master's and doctoral degrees from Warsaw Agricultural University in 1965 and 1975, respectively.
Brian Wilson came to WMU in 1996 as a member of the religion faculty. He previously was coordinator of the "Religious Contours of California" project at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an editorial assistant for the journal Religion. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. An expert on American religious history, Wilson earned a bachelor's degree from Stanford University in 1982 and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1991 and 1996, respectively. He replaces Dr. E. Thomas Lawson, whose administrative leave and return to the faculty also were approved by the board at the meeting.
Benjamin Wilson, a faculty member since 1975, will head the Africana Studies Program created by the board May 30. Prior to coming to WMU, he was a faculty member at General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, and a graduate assistant at Michigan State University. His research over the years has covered such topics as the black experience in rural Michigan and Idlewild, the famed black resort community in West Michigan. He has traveled extensively, visiting such African nations as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana in the past decade. At WMU, he founded and directs an annual music minifestival that explores music styles ranging from jazz and hip hop to gospel and blues. He earned a bachelor's degree from Benedictine College and master's and doctoral degrees from Michigan State in 1972 and 1974, respectively.
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