Starting July 19, Rowan University will welcome its new Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, Dr. Vojislava Pophristic. After the retirement of their previous dean, Dr. Karen Magee-Sauer, Rowan launched a national search for a replacement that had all of the experience and the accomplishments that Pophristic possesses to qualify for the job.
“My last position, I was an interim Dean of Misher College of Arts and Sciences. In some respects, this is similar to this College of Science and Mathematics in a sense that it covered the disciplines of math, physics, chemistry, biology and psychology,” Pophristic said.
Pophristic has the experience Rowan believes is needed to succeed in this field as she was the interim dean for two and a half years of a STEM-focused institution at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She previously was on the chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry for almost ten years and before that served as a faculty member.
As she is very well established in her career at the University of Science in Philadelphia, Pophristic spoke on what drew her interest towards Rowan.
“We are facing deep societal issues that relate to injustice and discrimination; we are in our fourth industrial revolution along with a pandemic. So, the combination of these forces is accelerating the urgency for the transformation of higher education,” Pophristic said. “What I saw in Rowan is the momentum for change. Therefore, I see lots of potentials for Rowan to be a leader in this change of education which is necessary for the years to come.”
On this national search for a new dean, Rowan was looking for “a candidate with a passion for applied research and a hands-on teaching philosophy,” Provost Anthony Lowman said in an announcement to the university. Along with being a co-author in over 30 scientific publications internationally, Pophristic is well-rounded and well respected with her research experience.
“I have lived in this integrated space between different sciences, and I see a great value in both what this integration brings but also if we have people from different backgrounds at the table, that is when we truly reach new levels of discovery. I truly believe in interdisciplinary approaches to research,” Pophristic said.
At her previous institution, Pophristic made recruitment improvements that led to a 25% increase in freshman enrollment. One of her goals here is to lower the number of STEM students who switch to different majors, which has been an issue for the STEM academy.
“We need to meet the students where the students are, rather than expect students to come to us. We should strengthen and build interactions with high schools as well as community colleges. This has proved to work in the past, and we should look further into it,” Pophristic said.
When asked about her long-term goals for these departments, Pophristic shared three main goals.
“My goal is for the college to become a premier destination for STEM education, for a new type of STEM education so that it fits with the needs of this rapidly changing workforce,” Pophristic said.
“Also, to become a really strong research college because basic sciences are certainly an underline basic for research in many fields,” Pophristic said. “I would also love to increase the access and retention of the diverse population of students in STEM.”
Rowan University eagerly awaits their new Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, Dr. Vojislava Pophristic, who will start on July 19.
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