By SUSAN JONES
Kathleen Blee, dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, announced last week that she will step down next year and return to the faculty.
Prior to becoming dean in 2017, Blee was associate dean for graduate studies. She came to Pitt as a full professor of sociology in 1996 and head of the Women’s Studies program. She also served as a faculty member and senior administrator at the University of Kentucky for more than 15 years.
She is the fourth Pitt dean since last fall to announce they are stepping down. Patricia Kroboth, of the School of Pharmacy, and Arjang A. Assad, of Pitt Business, will transition to faculty after they move out of the dean’s offices at the end of this month. Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, of the School of Nursing, also will step down this month, followed by a 12-month sabbatical and retirement effective June 30, 2023.
The past two years also have brought new deans to the School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the School of Computing and Information. Assad’s replacement — Eugene Anderson, dean of Syracuse University’s School of Management — will start at Pitt in August. Searches for new deans of pharmacy and nursing have been ongoing since last fall.
As dean, Blee led a successful fundraising campaign as well as widespread efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in the school, which is Pitt’s largest. In fall 2021, just over 58 percent of undergraduates on the Oakland campus — 11,627 students — were enrolled in the school’s more than 40 departments in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, and more than 40 percent of non-medical school faculty taught in the school.
A leading authority on white supremacy, Blee has spent close to 40 years studying hate movements in the United States, having published seven books and more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and won numerous awards for her research and writing on the topic.
She plans to continue her work as co-director of the Collaboratory Against Hate, a joint project that Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University launched in 2021 to study and prevent hate and violence against marginalized groups.
Blee has earned all three of the major teaching and research awards given by Pitt: the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. She is a distinguished professor in the Department of Sociology, with appointments in the Department of History, the Department of Psychology and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program.
“Kathy’s accomplishments are far-reaching, indeed,” said Provost Ann Cudd in a letter announcing the move. “The University of Pittsburgh has benefitted greatly from her vision and dedication — and will continue to do so after the conclusion of her deanship.”
Blee succeeded N. John Cooper, who served as dean of arts and sciences for 19 years.
A search committee will be formed in the following months to identify Blee’s successor.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 724-244-4042.
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