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SUNY Plattsburgh Names Andrew Buckser New Dean of Arts and Science

Dr. Andrew Buckser, anthropology professor and Purdue University’s associate dean for research and graduate education, will be the new dean of arts and science at SUNY Plattsburgh, effective July 1.

Buckser received word of his selection following a nationwide search that began last fall with the announcement that Dean Kathy Lavoie was stepping down to join the biology faculty full time at the end of the academic year. Lavoie has served as the dean of arts and science since arriving on campus in 1997.

Lavoie said she is looking forward to getting back into the classroom full time after returning to campus following a fall sabbatical. But before that, she will present a paper at the Internal Congress of Speleology, a conference for caving associations, in the Czech Republic this summer.

The sabbatical will take her to the University of New Mexico where she will use new molecular biology techniques to study caves. She’ll also do field work in Hawaii and the Azores before returning for the spring 2014 semester.

Dr. James Liszka, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said he’s pleased that Buckser has accepted the position.

“Dr. Buckser is an excellent teacher, with several awards to his credit,” Liszka said. “He will come to the campus with strong administrative experience; an understanding of the importance of teaching excellence and scholarship; and a genuine concern for student success.”

In addition to working as Purdue’s associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Liberal Arts, Buckser has served as the American Education Council Fellow in administration at Cornell University. He earned his degrees from Harvard and Berkeley and specializes in the anthropology of religion and medical anthropology.

“His books and articles on those subject matters are well-respected in the scholarly community,” Liszka said.

Michael Morgan, dean of education, health and human services and chair of the search committee that brought Buckser to campus, agreed.

“Dr. Buckser is an internationally recognized scholar who understands leadership,” Morgan said. “He highly values a collaborative community, one of the many characteristics that make him a good fit for SUNY Plattsburgh.”

Buckser said he is looking forward to coming to Plattsburgh, especially after meeting with the faculty and staff at the college.

“I had spent time in the North Country before, so I knew how beautiful it was, and, of course, I was familiar with SUNY Plattsburgh’s reputation as a place for teaching and scholarship,” he said. “What I hadn’t known before I visited, though, was what a wonderful community it is. I was really struck by the sense of warmth, of friendliness and of common commitment to the mission of public higher education at the college. People cared about each other, and they valued the work they were doing. That’s not something you find everywhere, and it’s something that made this position appealing to me.

“One of the things that really impressed me about the college is the way that faculty have created research opportunities for undergraduates,” he continued. “That’s been a big element of my work at Purdue, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job — nothing awakens students to the excitement of scholarship like taking part in real research. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find new ways to support faculty in doing that at Plattsburgh, to expand on what’s already one of the school’s real strengths.”

“We are pleased to have someone of Dr. Buskser’s caliber at SUNY Plattsburgh,” said College President John Ettling. “With his record as a teacher, a scholar and an administrator, he will lead the faculty in arts and science by example.

“We are also thankful to Dean Kathy Lavoie for her continued service to the campus and are grateful that she has decided to stay on as part of our biology faculty. Our students will benefit from her knowledge and expertise in the classroom and out in the field.”

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