New Associate Deans Named in COLA

March 10, 2016

Brett Gibson and Mary Rhiel

Brett Gibson, associate professor of psychology, has been named associate dean of faculty for the College of Liberal Arts, effective July 1, 2016. Current associate dean and professor of geography Alasdair Drysdale will be stepping down from the position at the conclusion of this academic year. Gibson’s responsibilities will include oversight of a number of important faculty areas including faculty appointments, the promotion and tenure process, lecturer promotions, computing, professional development funds, annual faculty and departmental reports, and sponsored research. “As a faculty, we often become insular and necessarily focus on our own scholarship and department. I am looking forward to working with faculty across the diverse programs offered by the College of Liberal Arts,” says Gibson, who brings 13 years of experience to UNH, including service as coordinator of the neuroscience and behavior major as well as acting chair of the Department of Psychology.

Mary Rhiel, interim senior vice provost of academic affairs and associate professor of German, has been named associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, effective June 1, 2016. John T. Kirkpatrick, named senior vice provost and dean of students earlier this year, had served in the associate dean role, with only a 2-year hiatus, since 1988. Rhiel’s responsibilities will include oversight of key undergraduate and graduate areas including student academic matters, student recruitment, study abroad, student conduct, student scholarship, career advising and curriculum. Rhiel brings many years of service to the University including the current year in Academic Affairs, two years as faculty fellow in the Dean’s Office, and chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Rhiel also created the Berlin summer study abroad program, serving as its director since 2009. “I care deeply about students and believe strongly in the value of a liberal arts education. I am excited to assume a position in the College of Liberal Arts in which both are central to the work I’ll be doing,” says Rhiel.

Dean Kenneth Fuld, who himself will be stepping down at the end of the academic year, has invited the newly appointed associate deans to work alongside the Dean’s Office staff this spring, whenever possible, in order to aid with a smooth transition. “Professors Gibson and Rhiel are and will continue to be wonderful assets to the College,” says Fuld. “They will be key figures in supporting the incoming dean, Dr. Heidi Bostic, as she familiarizes herself with the faculty, staff and programs in the College.”

Alum remembers power of faculty mentoring

July 25, 2012
photos of Max Mehlman and Brett Gibson in Gibson's lab

Max Mehlman with his mentor Dr. Brett Gibson in 2009, discussing honors thesis research on spatial learning and memory in pigeons.

A UNH alumnus remembers how his love of psychology and biology perfectly merged when he met Psychology Professor Brett Gibson. Max Mehlman ’09 spent two years under Gibson’s mentorship, studying navigational strategies in rats and spatial learning and memory in pigeons. With Gibson’s help, Mehlman obtained over $5,000 of research funding from UNH’s Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research.

“I attribute much of my success to the fantastic mentorship of Dr. Gibson,” says Mehlman, “a close friend whose guidance has been tremendously valuable not only during my undergraduate career but also throughout all my subsequent endeavors. With Dr. Gibson, my training was just as important as the research itself. He treated me as a genuine collaborator, and I ultimately learned how to function as an autonomous scientist.”

After graduation, Mehlman conducted research in the Australian outback on Spotted Bowerbirds and in California on Acorn Woodpeckers. He joined an environmental nonprofit organization to work on habitat restoration along California’s central coast. This spring, he entered a Ph.D. program in neuroscience at Dartmouth College.

Now Mehlman looks forward to providing guidance and mentoring to undergraduates at Dartmouth, helping younger students find their way.

Read the full story in the Inquiry Journal.

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