Theresa Lee Named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Theresa Lee

Theresa M. Lee has been named dean of the UT Knoxville College of Arts and Sciences. She will begin in her new position on January 1, 2012.

“I am incredibly honored to be chosen for this position and very excited to learn about the institutional traditions and challenges,” Lee says. “I am looking forward to working with the faculty, staff, and students of the college to maintain what is great and find ways to make improvements where they are needed.”

As dean, Lee says her job will have three major components: supporting the teaching, research, and service of the faculty in order to produce the optimal educational environment for students; supporting and conveying the importance of a liberal arts education in preparing young adults to learn life skills; and working with UT development officers to raise funds to support improved infrastructure and programs.

“As the largest and most comprehensive academic unit on campus, the College of Arts and Sciences affects all of our programs and plays a key role in our journey to become a top 25 public research institution,” says Susan Martin, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We are pleased to have Dr. Lee in this role and know she will lead the college during this time of great change and great opportunity.”

Lee, who is currently chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, is the second female dean in the college’s history. The first, Dr. Lorayne Lester, served as dean from 1996 to 2002.

In addition to serving as department chair, Lee is also a professor in the University of Michigan’s neuroscience program and a research scientist in the reproductive sciences program. Previously, she was chair of the department’s undergraduate program from 2004 to 2007 and chair of the biopsychology area from 2000 to 2005. She has worked for the Department of Psychology since 1988. Lee has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Indiana University and a doctorate in biopsychology from the University of Chicago.

Lee’s research spans a wide range of topics, from physical and social adaptive behaviors to the role of sex hormones in the development of circadian rhythms. While at Michigan, her work was recognized on a national level, and she has received grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Neuroscience, and she serves on the editorial board of the journal Sleep. In addition, she reviews two to four National Science Foundation grant applications each year.

Lee, who was chosen after a national search, replaces Bruce Bursten, who stepped down in December 2010 after more than five years as dean to return to the faculty. Hap McSween, Distinguished Professor of Science and a Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, will continue to serve as interim dean until Lee’s arrival.

The University of Michigan Department of Psychology is ranked in a tie with several of the top psychology departments in the nation and has more than 8,000 students per year in departmental courses and more than seventy full-time faculty. The department is the second largest research unit in the university’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

UT Knoxville’s College of Arts and Sciences spans twenty-three academic departments and schools, as well as seventeen centers and institutes. The 9,000-student college offers more than sixty undergraduate majors and pre-professional programs and fifty graduate programs. The college provides general education courses to every undergraduate student on the Knoxville campus.

–Meredith Mcgroarty