PULLMAN – Paul Whitney, associate dean and professor of psychology with the WSU College of Liberal Arts has accepted the post of interim dean of the college effective August 16.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Whitney, an outstanding scholar and administrator, has accepted the challenge of leading the College of Liberal Arts,” said Robert C. Bates, WSU provost and executive vice president. “Our world-class faculty and excellent academic programs continue to bring more visibility to the College of Liberal Arts and Dr. Whitney’s experience and commitment will be of great assistance in guiding our ambitious course.”

Whitney will serve as the interim replacement for Erich Lear, dean of the college since 2004, who announced last September that he would be stepping down from the post to return to the WSU faculty next August.

Prior to being named associate dean for research in the College of Liberal Arts three years ago, Whitney coordinated distance degree programs for the college and served as chair of the Department of Psychology for six years.

Whitney came to WSU in 1987 after three years at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He earned his doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Kansas in 1984.

His research centers on working memory processes in language comprehension and decision making. Much of this work takes an individual differences approach examining how working memory deficits impact other cognitive processes. Whitney also is engaged in collaborative work with researchers on the Spokane campus in order to understand how working memory and decision making processes are affected by sleep deprivation and to investigate the role of impulsive decision making in substance abuse.

The author of more than 40 published articles examining cognitive processes in language comprehension and decision making, Whitney has received research funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Institutes of Health.

A committee chaired by Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, was appointed to conduct a search for the new dean for the College of Liberal Arts in January. Working in collaboration with a professional search firm, the committee intends to commence the final phase of the search this fall in order to allow faculty, staff and students an opportunity to participate.