University of Miami’s first African-American dean, Dr. James Wyche, will join the College of Arts and Sciences this Aug. 1.
Wyche, an established biology professor and researcher, was also appointed Vice Provost by President Donna Shalala.
According to the Miami Herald, Shalala-who has known Wyche since 1981 when he taught at Hunter College where she was then-president-said that Wyche will restore the College of Arts and Sciences to “pre-eminence on campus.”
As for Wyche, he said that the location and diversity of Miami is what drew him to our “premiere private institution.”
“The University of Miami is in a very important corridor that links North America to the Caribbean and South America,” Wyche said. “Miami is the South East cultural hub.”
Wyche spent 14 years at Brown University as a professor and associate provost in the school’s division of biology and medicine. Most recently, he was interim president of Tougaloo College [a historically black college] in Jackson, Mississippi. He holds a Ph.D. in biology from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. from Brown University, and a B.S. from Cornell University.
“He’s a big catch for us,” Shalala told the Herald. “He’s very competitive in the marketplace.”
Prior to joining Brown in 1988, Wyche was on the faculty of Hunter College from 1981 to 1988 and the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1974 to1980.
Wyche has served in a number of positions with the National Advisory Research Resource Council, National Institutes of Health, and is extensively published in the field of cellular biology. He is also an active member of the American Society for Cell Biology, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and has served on various national and international scientific committees.
With his focus on the sciences, Wyche said that the first departments he wants to strengthen are math and chemistry.
“As a new person coming in, obviously I’ll be bringing some of the things from my experience bag. I’d like to take some of the premiere departments like psychology and use them as models and also create natural interfaces between departments to benefit the students and the university,” Wyche said.
Students in the arts may wonder if Wyche will forget them as he builds up the science disciplines. However, Wyche explained that his work as the Executive Director of the Leadership Alliance-a consortium of 23 colleges and universities, including leading research institutions, historically black colleges and six Ivy League schools, whose purpose is to increase graduate enrollment of minority scholars-has given him a lot of experience in other academic areas.
“I’ve had a different set of experiences from other scientists. I was able to get involved with a number of the non-science departments and I certainly want to build on that experience,” Wyche said.
During his tenure at Brown, Dr. Wyche was a proponent of interdisciplinary study and diversity in education, according to a press release sent out by UM Media Relations.
“I’d also like to extend our international outreach. I would like the school [department as of next semester] to work in concert with the other Arts and Sciences departments,” Wyche told the Hurricane.
Wyche said that the one area he feels he needs to cultivate is his relations with UM students.
“It’s something I have to learn a lot more about. I will be trying to link up with grads and undergrads to see what things will embellish their experience. I want to stress programs that lead to leadership,” he said. “We look forward to a good sharing relationship.”