Brian Kloeppel, who has been serving as interim dean of Western Carolina University’s Graduate School and Research since July 2015, has been named to the position on a permanent basis, effective immediately.
Approval of the appointment of Kloeppel, who also is a professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources, came Friday, June 3, during the quarterly meeting of WCU’s Board of Trustees.
Named associate dean of the Graduate School in January 2013, he fills a vacancy created last June when Mimi Fenton, dean of Graduate School and Research for three years, stepped down to return to a faculty role in the Department of English.
Appointment of Kloeppel to the permanent position follows a national search conducted by a campus committee chaired by Richard Starnes, dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“Brian distinguished himself as an exceptionally strong candidate through his outstanding service as interim dean and as associate dean before that,” said Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar. “Working in close collaboration with the deans and program directors, he made significant progress in the marketing and support of graduate education at WCU. This has resulted in increased enrollment in a number of our graduate programs.”
Prior to coming to WCU in 2008, Kloeppel was a research faculty member with the University of Georgia for 14 years and was the site director for the National Science Foundation-funded Long-Term Ecological Research Program at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory near Otto in Macon County.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected to serve as the dean of the Graduate School and Research at Western Carolina University,” he said. “It is extremely enjoyable to advocate for the faculty and staff at Western who work so hard to prepare their graduate students for success in current and future careers in a wide variety of fields.”
In addition to his role as an advocate for graduate education at WCU, Kloeppel will serve as chief research officer for the university’s Sponsored Research Office, which supports the faculty, staff and students who conduct research funded by external and internal sources.
“As the value of externally funded research continues to grow, more of our graduate and undergraduate students are able to conduct research under the mentorship of faculty and staff that reinforces the skills and concepts taught in classrooms, laboratories, clinical studies and the outdoors,” he said. “Externally funded research also provides some of the resources to purchase equipment and supplies, fund professional travel and financially support faculty outside of the academic year.”
Kloeppel has taught and conducted research at the University of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in forest science from the University of Wisconsin, his master’s degree in tree physiology from Penn State and his doctoral degree in forest ecology from Wisconsin. His research work has taken him from western Montana near Glacier National Park to the eastern border of Poland near Belarus.
The Graduate School dean reports directly to the provost and is responsible for the development, promotion, coordination and evaluation of graduate education, and oversees and promotes sponsored research and compliance at WCU.
The university’s graduate education offerings currently includes 38 master’s programs, three doctoral programs, nine certificate programs and various teacher certification programs. More than 1,500 students are enrolled in graduate education at WCU through on-site classes in Cullowhee, in Asheville through WCU Programs at Biltmore Park, and around the world through online courses.