Gene Tracy named W&M's interim dean of Arts & Sciences

  • Interim deanGene Tracy, the Chancellor Professor of Physics, has been named the interim dean of Arts & Sciences. Tracy's appointment is effective July 1, 2011. He will replace Carl Strikwerda, who is leaving the College to become president of Elizabethtown College.

    Photo by Joseph McClain

    Interim dean
Gene Tracy, the Chancellor Professor of Physics, will serve as the interim Dean of Arts & Sciences at the College of William & Mary, effective July 1, 2011.

Tracy will be the temporary replacement for Dean of Arts & Sciences Carl Strikwerda, who is leaving William & Mary to become president of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. A search committee for a permanent replacement for Strikwerda will be announced by the end of the spring semester.

“Gene’s broad knowledge of Arts & Sciences and of the College and his deep commitment to our special blend of liberal arts education, combined with his integrity and good judgment, will make him very effective in this new role,” said William & Mary Provost Michael R. Halleran in an e-mail to Arts & Sciences faculty announcing the appointment.

Tracy is an experienced educator and administrator, as well as an accomplished researcher on topics ranging from the basic to the applied. He came to William & Mary in 1984 as an instructor of physics and has taught a wide range of courses for undergraduates and graduates. He has created and/or taught several physics courses for non-majors.

“Science is a part of the liberal arts,” Tracy said. “In general education courses like these, non-science majors can learn that science is an empirical activity, based on observing and measuring things, and that it also embodies certain values, like free and open inquiry, that characterize liberal education. I believe that our faculty’s commitment to general education is a part of what makes William & Mary one of the world’s great liberal arts universities and I look forward to my new role in it.”

Tracy has held a number of administrative positions at William & Mary. He served as director of Graduate Center Programs and interim Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. He has served as a member of the Arts & Sciences Faculty Affairs Committee and chair of the Educational Policy Committee. He is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and Chair of the Challenge 1 Subcommittee on William & Mary as a leading liberal arts university in the 21st century.  In 2010, Tracy finished a year’s term as the president of the William & Mary Faculty Assembly.

Arts & Sciences is the largest academic unit at the College, including 378 faculty, 21 departments and 14 interdisciplinary programs that serve 5,600 students, including 500 graduate students in six doctoral and 11 master’s degree programs.

Coming to William & Mary as a plasma physicist, Tracy has maintained an extremely varied slate of research activity, much of it funded externally. He is a significant contributor to the algae biofuel collaborative that includes the Chesapeake Algae Project (ChAP). He’s also made contributions to the field of bioinformatics and was part of the team responsible for attracting the bioinformatics firm Incogen to Williamsburg. Most of his research projects have involved William & Mary students, from freshmen up through Ph.D. students.

Tracy holds the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Maryland and a B.S. from Johns Hopkins University.

“Gene Tracy is a dedicated, experienced faculty leader, an excellent scientist who is respected by his colleagues for his integrity and hard work,” Strikwerda said.  “I am confident he will maintain the high academic standards and deep commitment to teaching and research which have long distinguished Arts & Sciences at the College of William & Mary.”

Strikwerda became Dean of Arts & Sciences in July 2004, coming from the University of Kansas. During his tenure, Arts & Sciences won major support from a number of foundations as well as from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a number of federal agencies. He also spearheaded the growth of William & Mary’s international focus, including expanding the International Relations major and the teaching of Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian and introducing a new undergraduate degree program offered jointly with the University of St Andrews University in Scotland.