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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 874-7892

Environment and Life Sciences College names new associate deans

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 16, 2002 -- Jamestown residents Dennis Nixon and Cathy Roheim Wessells were recently appointed to serve as associate deans in the University of Rhode Island’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences. They each have served as interim associate dean since Sept. 2001.

Formerly a professor and chair in the URI Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Wessells was appointed associate dean for research and outreach, as well as associate director of the URI Agricultural Experiment Station and associate director of the URI Cooperative Extension. In these roles she will serve as a facilitator to help faculty and staff achieve their research and outreach objectives.

"It’s a new challenge for me. I miss the day to day contact with students, but it’s a tremendous opportunity to do good things for the College," Wessells said. "I work directly with faculty, researchers and outreach staff. We run a large research and outreach program here in the College, with over $12 million in funding from external sources. Most days I work to facilitate our research and outreach staff to take advantage of funding opportunities to conduct their work on environmental and marine issues important to Rhode Island. Some days I’m even a construction manager. I was able to secure funding to put a solar roof on one of our main outreach buildings."

While she will no longer teach, Wessells will continue her research on the implications of seafood eco-labeling for international trade, fisheries management and consumer well-being.

Nixon’s new role as associate dean for academic affairs finds him completely immersed in the world of college students and teachers, "from the good news of the dean’s list to the bad news of probation," he said, including grading, curriculum changes, new courses, faculty performance reviews, and other personnel issues.

A professor in the URI Department of Marine Affairs for the past 25 years and a lawyer with expertise in marine and coastal law, Nixon will continue to teach one course each semester. "Now I’m practicing more law than I had in a long time, dealing with labor contracts, real estate leases, operating licenses for research vessels, and other issues."

In addition to his URI responsibilities, Nixon is an advisor to the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System on legal and insurance matters related to the national fleet of academic oceanographic research vessels.

Both Wessells and Nixon said they were attracted to the administrative side of URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences when Jeffrey Seemann was hired as the new dean of the College last year. Since they started in their new roles at about the same time and they live just half a mile from each other in Jamestown, they’ve also become an excellent team.

"We share responsibility on projects that each of us has different expertise in," Nixon said. "We chip in where our strengths are, and there is a good meshing of our abilities."

In addition to Nixon’s and Wessells’ former departments, URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences includes the departments of plant sciences, natural resources science, geosciences, nutrition and food science, cell and molecular biology, community planning and landscape architecture, and fisheries, animal and veterinary science.

"It’s quite a diverse college, with a fleet of boats, a fleet of vehicles, a fleet of farms, and lots of other capital assets," said Wessels. "To take care of it all, we’re trying to become the best team of deans on campus."

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