Mary Wack named interim director of OUE

PULLMAN — Mary Wack, dean of the university’s Honors College, has been named the interim director for the Office of Undergraduate Education. Wack will continue to serve in her current role as dean of the Honors College. Her new duties began July 1.

“I am very pleased that Dean Wack has accepted the opportunity to lead the Office of Undergraduate Education in its second year of existence,” said Robert Bates, provost and academic vice president. “She brings to the position wide experience with  undergraduate education issues and with the various units that make up the OUE. 

“As a member of the leadership team for implementing the strategic goals for undergraduate education, she helped shape the vision and action plan for the institution. Her dedication to all aspects of educational quality will assist WSU to position itself as a leading institution for undergraduate education at a research university,” Bates said.

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity to advance and integrate the many initiatives underway regarding undergraduate education,” said Wack.  “A lot of exciting things are happening across the WSU campuses in both academic affairs and student affairs, thanks to the creative efforts of many faculty and staff. I’m honored to have the chance to assist them in realizing their visions for the students of WSU.”

Wack has served as dean of the Honors College since 2000. Prior to that, she served as chair of the English department from 1993-96, where she worked closely with the General Education Program and the Writing Program. From 1996-99 she served as the first senior fellow and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. 

Wack received bachelor’s degrees in English and classics from Georgetown University in 1976.  Following a year on a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Heidelberg, she entered the medieval studies program at Cornell University, where she obtained her Ph.D. in 1982.

Wack joined the WSU faculty in 1993 from Stanford, where she taught in the English department and the medieval studies program. She won Stanford’s Bing Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1992. Her interdisciplinary research in medieval studies led to the publication of Lovesickness in the Middle Ages:  The Viaticum and its Commentaries, which won the 1990 Harry Levin Prize for the best book in comparative literature.  She has held fellowships or grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the American Council of Learned Societies and has published widely on medieval topics.

The role of director of undergraduate education was previously held on an interim basis by Doug Baker, vice provost for academic affairs, as part of the initial implementation of the university’s strategic plan.

“I expect to hire a permanent director as part of full implementation of WSU’s strategic goal to offer the best undergraduate experience at a research  university,” said Bates. “The position of vice provost for academic affairs will be filled later in the coming academic year, after the current portfolio of responsibilities is reviewed and benchmarked. My intention is to realign administrative structures within the provost’s office to position the university most effectively to achieve its strategic goals.”

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