March 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Joseph Shields Named Interim Dean of College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Joseph Shields with blackboard in the background

Dr. Joseph Shields

Excepted from Compass

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis and Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs announced the appointment of Dr. Joseph Shields as Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences beginning May 12.

Shields, Professor of Physics & Astronomy, has served as OHIO’s Vice President for Research and Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College since 2011.

His commitment to nurturing research at Ohio University builds on his own scholarship in nebular astrophysics. Shields’ research involves studying the consequences of supermassive black holes in galaxies, using both ground- and space-based observatories. He served as a scientific editor of the premier journal in the field of astrophysics and served on scientific review panels that determine allocation of research time for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the National Optical and Radio Astronomy Observatories.

Shields joined OHIO’s Physics & Astronomy Department in 1996. He chaired the department—one of the university’s most active research departments that also houses one of the institution’s largest doctoral programs—for six years until being named VP of research. He received the 2002 Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Joseph Shields, Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of Ohio University’s Graduate College attends the 3 Minute Thesis Competition at the Stocker Center on February 15, 2017. Photo by Daniel Owen

Leveraging Innovation, Encouraging Economic Development

“Joe’s leadership as vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the graduate college has been critical to the University’s mission. Joe has demonstrated great stewardship on behalf of OHIO’s faculty and students, and I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this role,” Nellis said.

And as Graduate Dean, Shields is responsible for administrative support for more than 5,000 graduate students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees at OHIO. During his time as dean, the university’s graduate enrollment increased by nearly 30 percent, and the Graduate College is now a home for interdisciplinary graduate programs. “In particular we re-established the Individual Interdisciplinary Program with a new structure housed in the Graduate College, and we created a new interdisciplinary doctoral program in Translational Biomedical Sciences,” Shields said.

Under Shields’ leadership, the research division has expanded the university’s role in economic development and job creation programs in Southeastern Ohio. A number of grant-funded programs, including a 28-county initiative called Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability, are helping entrepreneurs access expertise and funding to grow their businesses. Shields also is leading implementation of OHIO’s Innovation Strategy for leveraging interdisciplinary partnerships to advance the university’s mission in confronting major societal challenges.

Madeline Sudnick (Left) presents her research to Vice President for Research; and Dean of the Graduate College Joe Shields (Center) and President Nellis at the Student Expo. Photo by Ben Siegel

Madeline Sudnick (Left) presents her research to Vice President for Research; and Dean of the Graduate College Joe Shields (Center) and President Nellis at the Student Expo. Photo by Ben Siegel

In addition to supporting individual faculty researchers, the division also encourages interdisciplinary collaborations and undergraduate research.

“Research and innovation have and an important role to play in President Nellis’ strategic roadmap for OHIO,” Shields says.

At his inauguration in Fall 2018, Nellis articulated a vision for Ohio University that includes building a university engagement ecosystem that can become an economic catalyst for Appalachia. That vision includes enhancing the university’s national research profile and enhancing academic quality at OHIO, areas where the College of Arts & Sciences is well-positioned to advance the university’s mission.

“As the university’s largest college, Arts & Sciences is central to Ohio University’s transformative learning experience,” said Sayrs. “We are confident that Joe will provide leadership to support priorities for continued advancement in teaching, research and scholarship, and faculty development while the search for the next dean is underway.”

Shields earned a B.S. in physics and astronomy from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley. He will serve as interim dean until a permanent dean of the College of Arts & Sciences is named.

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