May 18, 2010 — Coral Gables — A distinguished analytical and biological chemist has been named the new dean of the University of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Leonidas G. Bachas, the Frank J. Derbyshire Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky (UK) and chair of its Department of Chemistry, will arrive at UM on July 1, providing new leadership for the largest of the institution’s 12 colleges and schools.
“A brilliant strategic thinker and a problem solver with a keen analytic mind” is how Thomas J. LeBlanc, UM’s executive vice president and provost, describes Bachas, noting that the new dean has a “deep appreciation” for fields outside his own area of expertise.
“He understands the importance of the liberal arts in a research university and will be a strong advocate for our College of Arts and Sciences,” LeBlanc said.
Bachas’s tenure at Kentucky, a public university in Lexington where he has worked since 1986, has been marked by responsibilities and duties across several areas. From 2004 to 2009, he served as associate dean of research and academic programs of UK’s College of Arts and Sciences, participating in collegiate planning, major policy decisions, faculty recruitment and retention, and budget allocation among the school’s 16 departments and 15 interdisciplinary programs.
It was a role that required Bachas to help shape the college's continuously evolving undergraduate curriculum, spearhead internal research award programs, and oversee academic resource centers. He played an active role in preparing the college’s Self Study and Strategic Plan, and has worked closely with department chairs, directors of interdisciplinary programs, and the college’s Educational Policy Committee and Executive Committee.
As chair of UK’s chemistry department, one of the largest units within the university's College of Arts and Sciences, he has made mentoring young instructors and researchers one of his top priorities. He also has made diversity a key objective, spearheading efforts to include in the sciences more women, students of color, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. “A diverse college,” he has said, “enhances the overall experience of all students and faculty.”
At UK, he built a strong reputation for fostering interdisciplinary initiatives, heading a research group that brings together biological chemists, materials scientists, toxicologists, and electrochemists to address some of today’s most pressing issues.
Funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and other leading sources has powered his group's research in areas such as nanoscience, biofuel cells, microfabricated analytical systems, and tissue regeneration. He has served as the principal or co-principal investigator on more than 70 externally funded grants totaling more than $40 million.
Bachas directed the Topical Studies Major, which allows students to design their own interdisciplinary field of study within UK's College of Arts and Sciences, and is associate director of the Superfund Program, an interdisciplinary initiative funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
He has developed multidisciplinary and cross-collaborative projects with faculty in agriculture, engineering, medicine, pharmacy, biomedical engineering, and other disciplines. “I value interdisciplinary activities as a major contributor to research, scholarship, and learning," Bachas has said.
He is a member of UK’s Intellectual Property Commercialization Committee, which advises the vice president for commercialization and economic development, and has served as a member of the university-wide Outreach Task Force, a committee that had as its responsibility the coordination of community outreach activities through the cooperative extension program.
“Dr. Bachas is a highly respected scientist with a strong background in education and administration,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala. “The College of Arts and Sciences will benefit greatly from his experience in academic leadership as well as from his multidisciplinary approach to the humanities and scientific research.”
As dean of UM's College of Arts and Sciences, Bachas says he is looking forward to building and maintaining relationships with the other schools and colleges at the University as well as establishing new collaborative initiatives that address climate change, energy, life sciences, global health, and social problems.
“The city of Miami is a global, cultural hub, and the University of Miami is at the center of that hub,” Bachas said. “As a known leader in higher education, the University, at its core, is about people and ideas working to explore, improve, and understand the world in which we all live. I am excited and humbled to be able to work with the College of Arts and Sciences’ excellent faculty and staff to expand and blur the boundaries of knowledge, address and solve world issues, and prepare world-ready citizens.”
“A brilliant scientist” is how UM School of Education Dean Isaac Prilleltensky, who chaired the search committee that selected Bachas, describes him. “He has a deep knowledge of higher education and a great appreciation for the humanities and the social sciences. He will be a highly valued colleague among deans and an exceptional leader.”
Bachas earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Athens, Greece, and he holds master’s degrees in chemistry and oceanic sciences from the University of Michigan, from where he also earned his Ph.D. in chemistry. He was also a postdoctoral research fellow at the school.
He has served as a member of the board of directors of the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry, chaired the Lexington Section of the American Chemical Society, and served on the Kentucky Academy of Science, Committee on Science and Government. He has also served on the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Archives Committee.
His wife, Sylvia Daunert, is the Gill Eminent Professor of Analytical and Biological Chemistry in UK’s College of Arts and Sciences, leading a research group that focuses on using recombinant DNA technology to develop new bioanalytical techniques.
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