Leah VanWey, dean of the School of Professional Studies and professor of sociology, was appointed as the next dean of the faculty, according to a March 18 Today@Brown announcement from Provost Richard Locke P’18. Beginning July 1, VanWey will succeed Kevin McLaughlin, who has served in the role for 11 years.
As dean of the faculty, VanWey will oversee academic departments in the humanities and social sciences, as well as physical and life sciences departments that are not part of the School of Engineering, School of Public Health or Division of Biology and Medicine, according to the announcement.
“In this role, she will lead a team of dedicated faculty and administrators in developing and implementing programs, initiatives and policies to support the recruitment, retention and development of Brown faculty in these departments,” Locke wrote.
VanWey is “incredibly happy to have this chance to serve the University,” she told The Herald.
VanWey came to Brown as an associate professor in 2008, according to her LinkedIn. Since then, she has worked in the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Population Studies and Training Center and the Initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences, Locke wrote. Her academic interests lie in environmental change, demographic processes and human well-being in developing countries, especially Brazil.
During her time at Brown, VanWey has also held academic leadership positions. As associate provost of academic space, she oversaw space allocation for faculty and researchers across campus, and as dean of the School of Professional Studies, she oversaw several master’s and short-form programs, according to Locke.
“With her extensive experience advising, teaching and mentoring students, directing multiple academic units and conducting her own high-impact research, Leah’s deep understanding of Brown’s academic ecosystem positions her well to support faculty across a wide range of disciplines,” Locke wrote.
“Brown has been such an amazing place to be a faculty member. It's collaborative, it's interdisciplinary, it lets you combine teaching and research and it lets you do really creative, meaningful things,” VanWey said. “I (am) so happy to be able to do my part to continue that culture and to continue advocating for the faculty and making Brown the best place that it can be for faculty.”
“I know a lot about environmental science research, but I have a lot to learn about what happens in the physical sciences, … computer science, humanities and the arts,” VanWey added. “I look forward to learning about that breadth and helping people see how they can work together.”
VanWey also said that she looks forward to “supporting the career paths of diverse faculty.”
“We've made a lot of progress in the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and in both the recruitment and retention of faculty from historically underrepresented groups,” VanWey said. “There's still more work to be done there, and we can create better communities and better structures to promote the success of historically underrepresented group faculty.”