WMU News

Academic and administrative appointments announced

April 22, 2005

KALAMAZOO--The appointments of a new senior advisor to the provost, an associate dean, a director of an academic research unit and an interim department chair were among personnel items approved by the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees at its April 22 meeting.

Trustees approved the appointments of Dr. Michael Atkins as senior advisor to the provost and vice president for academic affairs, effective April 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006; Dr. David Cowan as interim chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, effective Jan. 3; Dr. James Gilchrist as director of student academic and institutional research, effective April 1; and Dr. James Hopfensberger as associate dean of the College of Fine Arts, effective June 20.

The board also approved the previously announced appointment of Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes as director of First-Year Experience Programs, effective April 1.

Michael Atkins, who has served as a member of the engineering faculty since 1971, stepped down as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences March 31 after serving in that capacity for the past three years. He had planned to retire in June with 35 years of service, but has agreed to stay on for an additional year as senior advisor for academic affairs.

David Cowan has been a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences since 1979. His research interests are in behavioral ecology and evolution, and in particular, the reproductive behavior of insects. His work includes the study of populations in nature, laboratory breeding and behavior experiments, and the use of molecular markers for genetic analysis. Cowan earned his bachelor's degree in 1970, his master's degree in 1976 and his doctoral degree in 1978, all from the University of Michigan.

James Gilchrist has been a member of the WMU faculty since 1980 and served as chair of the Department of Communication from 1993 to 1999. He has served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2000 and for more than a year, has also overseen the University's implementation of a new student information system as the project manager. He will take the ongoing direction and development of that system to his new position and add responsibility for supporting assessment initiatives and overseeing all institutional research. A specialist in organizational communication and communication ethics, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Oklahoma State University in 1970 and 1972, respectively, and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas-Austin in 1980.

James Hopfensberger comes to WMU from Michigan State University where he has been a professor of art and chairperson of the Department of Art and Art History since 2000. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University's School of Visual Arts, leading the Studio Art Program from 1995 to 2000. He also has taught at Skidmore College, the Massachusetts College of Art August Studios and North Carolina State University's School of Design. Hopfensberger earned his bachelor's degree from MSU in 1980, his master's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983 and a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan in 1985.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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