Q&A with Kathy Straub, Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences

Spring Summer 2022 Issue

In 2021, Susquehanna restructured its schools into the School of the Arts, School of Humanities, School of Natural and Social Sciences and the Sigmund Weis School of Business. After national search processes were conducted, Laurie Carter was named dean of the School of the Arts and School of Humanities, and Kathy Straub was promoted to dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences. Matthew Rousu remains dean of the business school.

Kathy Straub, dean, School of Natural and Social Sciences Kathy Straub, dean, School of Natural and Social SciencesQ: Why did you want to become dean after serving in the role of professor for many years?

A: My background as an earth scientist is interdisciplinary, so I knew it would be fascinating as dean to interact with and advocate for faculty and students in natural and social sciences. As a Susquehanna faculty member, I was fortunate to have leadership opportunities: head of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; and director of SU’s Center for Environmental Education and Research, during which time I oversaw our Freshwater Research Institute and established our Office of Sustainability. I really enjoyed the responsibilities within these roles, the ability to innovate and create new programs and seeing how my work impacted students.

Q: What leadership style will you bring to Susquehanna’s School of Natural and Social Sciences?

A: My leadership style is relationship-centered and inclusive, and I always try to lead by example. I strive to understand the experiences of faculty and students and to change institutional structures to allow everyone to most effectively use their own individual strengths to fulfill our institutional mission. I truly enjoy new challenges and am always looking ahead with excitement to the next project, the next grant, the next new program. I hope my innovative spirit inspires others to think creatively and boldly about Susquehanna’s future.

Q: What are the benefits of pursuing a science education at Susquehanna?

A: At Susquehanna, students learn by doing — whether that’s through field or laboratory experiences, simulations, internships or project-based learning — and they do so with close faculty mentorship and support. Students can get involved in research as early as their first year and can spend summers doing research with a faculty member on campus or working at an internship. Our students graduate with the knowledge, skills, experiences and professional connections necessary to pursue a wide range of careers.

Q: How will you assist the university in evolving to meet students’ and faculty’s needs?

A: Although a university is organized into academic departments, real-world problems like climate change or the pandemic response are inherently inter- disciplinary. Some of our most exciting new majors and minors exist in spaces between departments, like ecology, public policy, neuroscience, environmental studies, sustainability management and museum studies. As a new dean, it is my responsibility to collaboratively develop a strategic vision for the School of Natural and Social Sciences that supports faculty and students in pursuing their scholarly interests. I am thrilled to begin this journey with our talented and dedicated faculty and students.

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