WCU announces new dean of arts and sciences

Ford_Wendy07Wendy S. Zabava Ford (pictured), executive associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University, will become dean of Western Carolina University’s newly reconfigured College of Arts and Sciences on July 1.

WCU Provost Kyle Carter announced the appointment of Ford on Thursday, May 24, following a nationwide search that began in December. Ford, who has been an administrator and faculty member at Western Michigan since 1993, will be assuming leadership of Western’s largest college.

The changes are part of a major reorganization of the university’s academic structure that becomes effective July 1. Robert Kehrberg, who has been serving as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2005, was recently appointed founding dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. The new college houses academic programs in the arts that were formerly part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We have searched for a dynamic leader who understands the complexities of managing a college of the arts and sciences, which is home to faculty members with a wide range of disparate academic interests,” Carter said. “We have searched for an excellent communicator with the ability to represent the diversity of people, programs and disciplines within the arts and sciences. We have found just that person in Wendy Ford.”

Executive associate dean of the WMU College of Arts and Sciences since August 2004, Ford previously served as associate dean of the college. As a member of the faculty in the Western Michigan department of communication, she was director of the university’s Communication Research Center and chair of the interpersonal and organizational communication area.

“The next several years promise to be among the most exciting in the history of the College of Arts and Sciences,” Ford said. “As WCU continues to grow in size and stature, the college is well positioned to develop a distinctive identity. This identity will be centered on programming that is innovative and responsive to regional and national needs, and that fosters interdisciplinary connections and community engagement.”

Faculty members from the college also will play an increasingly important role in ensuring high quality courses to support students in WCU’s growing professional programs, including foundational courses for preparing teachers, healthcare practitioners, engineers and business professionals,” Ford said. “The faculty in the college are committed to sharing their broad expertise in the humanities, sciences and social sciences in preparing all students for careers and for life,” she said.

Ford has published extensively in professional journals, and presented at national and international conferences on the subjects of organizational communication and customer service. She is a member of the legislative assembly of the National Communication Association and serves on the editorial board of the journal Communication Studies.

Prior to joining WMU, Ford was assistant professor of organizational communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and taught as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland.

Ford earned her doctorate in speech communication in 1992 and her master’s degree in speech communication in 1989, both from the University of Maryland, and her bachelor’s degree in speech communication in 1986 from the University of Texas.

Western’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 180 full-time faculty members who serve more than 1,600 undergraduate student majors and master’s students in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Eleven departments comprise the college – anthropology and sociology, English, history, modern foreign languages, philosophy and religion, communication, political science, biology, chemistry and physics, geosciences and natural resources, and mathematics and computer science.