George H. Watson named dean of UD's College of Arts and Sciences
George H. Watson


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1 p.m., March 19, 2010----George H. Watson has been named dean of the University of Delaware's College of Arts and Sciences after a national search, University Provost Tom Apple announced today. The appointment is effective April 1.

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Watson, an alumnus of the University and a member of the faculty since 1987, has served as interim dean of the college since July 2009.

“George Watson brings extensive leadership skills, a commitment to educational innovation and research excellence to this important post,” Apple said. “Just as important, George is well-respected throughout the campus and in the higher education community around the world for his integrity, his productivity and his dedication to this institution.

“My thanks to the search committee, chaired by Michael Chajes, dean of the College of Engineering, for their timely and diligent work in this search.”

“I am delighted to continue serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The members of the College have accomplished great things this year, and we can look forward to even more as we advance on the Path to Prominence. Over the past year, I've greatly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know even more of the college, particularly in arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as working closely with the other deans and the supportive team in central administration. We have a fantastic team of associate deans and staff members in our college office and I look forward to driving our college to excellence in partnership with them,” Watson said.

George H. Watson

As associate dean of the college from 2001 and 2009, Watson worked closely with a portfolio of up to 10 departments in the natural sciences.

The Unidel Professor of Physics and Astronomy, he has conducted research in experimental condensed matter physics, with emphasis on light scattering and laser spectroscopy. With a primary appointment in the Department of Physics and Astronomy between 1987 and 2001, he was funded by the National Science Foundation in the areas of optically-disordered random media, photon localization, and photonic band structure measurements, particularly in colloidal crystals. He served briefly as associate chair of the department and was active in faculty governance in the department.

Watson's two most recent course developments were a science and technology literacy course for nonscience majors and an introductory electrical engineering course for sophomore mechanical engineering majors.

His commitment to undergraduate education has been recognized with several teaching awards, including Outstanding Teacher in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2000 and Delaware Professor of the Year in 1998.

Watson is the founding director of the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education, created at UD in 1997 with an NSF Institution-Wide Reform grant to promote transformation of undergraduate education through faculty development and course design. He has served on several organizing committees for international problem-based learning conferences. In 2001, Watson and the ITUE team launched the PBL Clearinghouse, and he has continued to serve as its managing editor since its creation. In 2004, he co-founded the Pan-American Network for Problem-Based Learning and maintains a leadership role in that organization. He has been supported by an NSF DUE grant for development of PBL curricula for introductory physics and by ALO/USAID funding for a project on science education reform in Peru through PBL. His work on engagement of students in their learning and transformation of undergraduate curricula has taken him to 20 countries for work with institutions of higher education and more than 30 institutions across the U.S. in the past 12 years.

Currently, he is the principal investigator of the NSF GK-12 project "Improvement of Science Education in Vocational Technical High Schools through Collaborative Learning and Co-teaching," in partnership with the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District. In each year of this project, up to nine doctoral students in the sciences are supported full-time as GK-12 Fellows and paired with local high school science teachers. Along with the faculty leaders, the teachers and fellows formed a learning community that examined current issues in education while specifically addressing critical needs in science education in the classrooms of our public high schools.

Watson earned his bachelor's degree in physics magna cum laude from Lafayette College and his doctorate in physics at UD.

College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest of the University's seven colleges, with 22 departments, 20 programs and more than 570 faculty members in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Current college enrollment totals 6,162 undergraduates and 1,107 graduate students.

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson