Dow, McLean assume new roles in College of Arts and Science dean’s office

Bonnie Dow, professor of communication studies, Distinguished Professor of Communication, Science and Technology and dean of academic affairs, will serve as vice dean of the College of Arts and Science for the 2023–24 academic year. John McLean, Stevenson Professor, professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Innovative Technology, has been named dean of graduate education and research for Arts and Science after recently stepping down from his role as associate provost for graduate education in the Office of the Provost. Both began in their new roles on July 1.

headshot of Bonnie Dow wearing orange shirt
Bonnie Dow (Vanderbilt University)

As vice dean, Dow will work closely with College of Arts and Science Interim Dean Timothy P. McNamara on several strategic projects designed to continue the forward momentum of the college and position A&S for its next, to-be-named dean who will start in 2024. Dow will retain her role as dean of academic affairs.

“Bonnie is the ideal person to take on an expanded role as vice dean,” McNamara said. “Her knowledge, experience and well-developed relationships across the college and the university will be important to our efforts to keep the college moving forward during this transitional year. I value her perspective honed from many years in the dean’s office and in the College of Arts and Science.”

Dow is a veteran administrator. She served as chair of the Department of Communication Studies for 10 years until 2017, at which point she joined the A&S dean’s office. Her responsibilities have touched on multiple priorities for the college, including faculty affairs, research initiatives and academic program development. She has served as principal investigator on multiple grants supporting research and teaching initiatives in the college, including awards from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Dow is an award-winning scholar and teacher and has authored or edited four books on women, gender and communication. Since joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2006, she has received the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center’s Mentoring Award and the College of Arts and Science’s Ernest A. Jones Faculty Advisor Award. Dow earned her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, a master’s degree from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, all in communication studies.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve the College of Arts and Science in a broader way in the coming year,” Dow said. “The college is on a strong path, and I aim to help maintain and strengthen it during this yearlong transition period.”

John McLean (Vanderbilt University)
John McLean (Vanderbilt University)

As dean of graduate education and research, McLean will oversee the college’s research footprint and its world-class graduate programs. Among other responsibilities, he will manage research centers and major grants; research appointments; the college’s Grand Challenge Initiative; and the programming, admissions and evaluation of the college’s graduate programs. He will partner closely with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Innovation and with the Graduate School.

McLean steps into this position as David Wright, Stevenson Professor and professor of chemistry, moves into a new role as director of the Communication of Science and Technology program.

“I am delighted that John is playing this important role for the college,” McNamara said. “His numerous contributions to the university, his outstanding scholarship and his demonstrated dedication to our mission of research, teaching and service position him to advance the college’s research portfolio and commitment to graduation education. He is building on a strong foundation laid by David Wright, who has created extraordinary growth over the past seven years, increasing the college’s external grants from $36 million to $48 million.”

“I look forward to joining the dean’s office and furthering the college’s excellence in research and graduate education,” McLean said. “Building on my recent experience in the provost’s office, as well as collaborating across many dimensions of the vibrant Vanderbilt research community, I am deeply committed to the university and the success of the College of Arts and Science. I am also profoundly grateful for the work of David Wright, whose success in the role has set the college on a strong path for the future.”

McLean is an accomplished scholar with a long history of leadership roles at the university. He most recently served as associate provost for graduate education and chair of the Department of Chemistry. He came to Vanderbilt in 2006 as assistant professor of chemistry, was promoted to associate professor in 2013, and was named Stevenson Professor in 2014. Over the years, he has served as chair of the A&S Faculty Council and chair of the Vanderbilt Faculty Senate before joining the provost’s office last year.

McLean is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received numerous external and internal awards, including the Chancellor’s Award for Research (2022) and the Thomas Jefferson Award (2021), the latter for his exemplary scholarship and service to the university. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s and doctorate from George Washington University, all in chemistry.

“Both Bonnie and John bring tremendous experience, ideas and leadership to the College of Arts and Science,” McNamara said. “We are fortunate they are serving in these important roles to ensure we maintain our current momentum and successes as we look to the future.”