Wabash College President Gregory D. Hess announced today that Dr. Scott E. Feller will become Dean of the College effective July 1. An award-winning chemistry professor, Dr. Feller has served Wabash since 1998.
“I’m very pleased to appoint Scott to this important role as we imagine a new and exciting future for Wabash College,” said President Hess, who became the College’s 16th president earlier this year. “Scott’s student-centered teaching and scholarship, administrative experience as a department and division chair, and innovative pedagogical approaches give him the skills and experience to lead the College as its Dean.”
Dr. Feller earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Willamette University, and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Davis. He was a post-doctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health and taught at UC-Davis and Whitman College prior to his arrival at Wabash in 1998.
“We have remarkable resources at Wabash, including excellent facilities for teaching and learning, devoted and generous alumni, and a student body that takes academics seriously,” Dr. Feller said. “One of my goals as Dean is to ensure that Wabash continues to attract and retain the strongest possible faculty and staff. I will also leverage the creativity of these teacher-scholars to develop innovative programs that have as their focus the development of young men who think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.”
“What became abundantly clear during our search process was the impact Scott has had in mentoring and developing young faculty, which has earned the respect of his peers and will serve him well in his new role,” added President Hess.
In addition to significant teaching roles and intensive scholarship, Feller has held administrative posts since 2006, serving as Chair of the Chemistry Department (2006-2009) and Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (2009-present).
“I am excited for the opportunity to serve my colleagues at Wabash,” Feller said, “and I look forward to working with our talented faculty and staff. We are fortunate to have both a large contingent of beginning faculty, who bring energy and new ideas, and a corps of experienced faculty who have established a tradition of excellence as teachers and scholars.”
Feller has been honored for his teaching by winning the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Excellence in Teaching Award, and his innovative work in “flipping the classroom” began more than a decade before the technique became vogue. He has team-taught courses in every semester of his Wabash tenure.
“I am not looking forward to taking a break from classroom teaching,” Feller said. “Serving as a teacher and mentor to our students has come to define my professional life and I don’t expect the adjustment to be easy. On top of that I have been fortunate to work with fantastic colleagues in the Chemistry Department and giving up our daily discussions of science and pedagogy will be tough.”
While his teaching, research, and administrative accomplishments have focused on the natural sciences, Dr. Feller is passionate about the breadth of a Wabash education. “As an advocate for the liberal arts, I want to confront the false notion that students need to choose either a liberal arts education or career preparation,” he said. “I want to tell the story of how Wabash graduates find success in their fields and in their lives and how those successes relate to their work with our faculty and staff.”
Dr. Feller’s scholarship is impressive. He has written more than 70 peer-reviewed articles; his research is cited approximately 500 times annually; he has made more than two-dozen invited lectures and presentations; and he has given departmental seminars at more than 30 colleges and universities.
He has received federally funded grants totaling more than $2.3 million for individual, institutional, and consortia projects. His current research, funded by the National Science Foundation at $450,000, explores lipid interactions using atomistic models and involves significant work with undergraduate researchers.
“It is my hope to continue my scholarly work in the study of biological membranes, including my commitment to collaborative research with Wabash undergraduates,” Feller said.
Most recently, Dr. Feller and his Wabash colleague Dr. James Brown received a $600,000 NSF grant to establish a STEM-based scholarship program in chemistry and physics.
He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Midwest Association of Chemistry Teachers at Liberal Arts Colleges, Council on Undergraduate Research, and Biophysical Society. He has served as a reviewer for more than 20 science journals and is a member of the editorial boards of Chemistry and Physics of Lipids, Journal of Membrane Biology, and Biophysical Journal. He has been honored for his research and teaching by the Food and Drug Administration, the American Chemical Society, Indiana University and Eli Lilly, and the Dreyfus Foundation.
The search committee, comprised of members of the faculty, staff, administration, Board of Trustees, and student body, was uniform in its admiration of Dr. Feller’s accomplishments and readiness for the position.
Dr. Feller will assume the position currently held by Dr. Gary A. Phillips, who will be stepping down at the end of the current academic year and, after a sabbatical leave, will return to the classroom as Professor of Religion.