A Voice for Undergraduates

October 1, 2007
Nowicki: helping to integrate the academic and social dimensions of the student experience

Nowicki: helping to integrate the academic and social dimensions of the student experience. Sara Guerrero

Stephen Nowicki, Duke's former dean of natural sciences, is well known around campus for his innovative and playful approach to engaging students. An Anne T. and Robert M. Bass fellow and professor in the departments of biology, psychology, and neurobiology, he has been known to juggle flaming clubs in the classroom and integrate a rock band into a lecture, all in the name of teaching.

Outside the classroom, his activities range from involving students in his evolutionary ecology lab to playing the trombone in the student pep band. So it's appropriate that Nowicki, engager extraordinaire, became Duke's first dean of undergraduate education on July 1.

President Richard H. Brodhead says the new post is intended to better integrate the academic and social dimensions of the student experience. In appointing Nowicki, an award-winning teacher and internationally known researcher, to the role, Brodhead and Provost Peter Lange say they've found a natural for the job.

"Steve has lived Duke's vision for an integrated undergraduate education by getting to know students in all of the places where they learn," Brodhead says. "He understands that students learn best when there is a natural connection between their schoolwork, their activities, and their social lives." 

As dean, Nowicki will serve as Duke's principal spokesman on undergraduate education and will be responsible for leading and coordinating all aspects of undergraduate life. Reporting to the provost, Nowicki will work closely with senior administrators in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, the division of student affairs, and other departments.

Nowicki will oversee facility improvements that affect undergraduates' dining, residential, and recreational experiences. He also will work with the provost on final recommendations emerging from the ongoing Campus Culture Initiative.

Alvin L. Crumbliss, a professor of chemistry at Duke since 1970, replaced Nowicki as dean of natural sciences.