AMHERST, Mass. – James V. Staros, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York, has been named provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The appointment was announced by Chancellor Robert C. Holub.
“James Staros is a distinguished scholar, teacher and administrator whose broad range of experience will greatly benefit UMass Amherst as we strive to become one of the nation’s best research universities,” said Holub. “His record of achievement in many areas, among them interdisciplinary collaboration, undergraduate retention and fostering diversity, speaks highly of the leadership skills he will bring to our campus community.”
Staros said, “I am honored to have been chosen as the next provost and senior vice chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and excited to be joining this distinguished university. While UMass, like essentially all public universities across the nation, is under serious fiscal pressure due to the national economic downturn, there are substantial opportunities for moving UMass to even greater heights, and I look forward to working with Chancellor Holub to make the most of those opportunities.”
Staros, whose appointment is effective Aug. 2, has been a dean at Stony Brook, one of the State University of New York’s four university centers, since 2002. He also holds an appointment as a professor in the department of biochemistry and cell biology.
Stony Brook’s College of Arts & Sciences encompasses the fine arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, biological sciences, physical sciences and mathematics. It is responsible for three-quarters of undergraduate enrollment and almost two-thirds of all the enrollments in the university. As dean, Staros led the college’s efforts to increase undergraduate retention and graduation rates through an aggressive program of matching resources with student needs to reduce unmet demand and by careful coordination of student advising within the college and units outside the college. These improvements have contributed to the recent improvements in Stony Brook’s undergraduate retention and graduation rates and to the concomitant rise in Stony Brook’s ranking for undergraduate programs (National Universities) in U.S. News & World Report, which has improved 21 places in the past five years.
Prior to joining Stony Brook, Staros taught at Vanderbilt University, starting as an assistant professor of biochemistry in Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine in 1978. He was promoted to associate professor in 1983 and professor in 1986. From 1988-91, he served as interim chairman of the school’s biochemistry department.
In 1991, he moved to the College of Arts & Science at Vanderbilt as professor and chair of the department of molecular biology. In 1999, he led the merger of the departments of molecular biology and biology at Vanderbilt, and he was named founding chair of the newly created department of biological sciences. During his years at Vanderbilt, he was very active in elective faculty governance, serving as vice chair of the Graduate Faculty Council (its highest elected office), chair of the Arts & Science Faculty Council, and chair of the University Faculty Senate. He also established a number of new programs, including an interdisciplinary and inter-school graduate training program in molecular biophysics and the Vanderbilt Minority Summer Research Program. He was awarded Vanderbilt’s Affirmative Action Award, the Golden Apple Award for teaching and mentoring, and the Thomas Jefferson Award for faculty governance.
Staros received his undergraduate education at Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1969 with a customized major in biology and chemistry and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He became involved in scientific undergraduate research and published his first paper while at Dartmouth.
As a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, he entered a doctoral program in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1974. He went on to the department of chemistry at Harvard University under the auspices of a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Staros’ research has straddled the interface between the physical and biological sciences. One of the major thrusts of his research program has focused on biophysical and biochemical aspects of signal transduction by hormone receptors, in particular the receptor for epidermal growth factor. A second focus of his research program has been the development of new chemical and spectroscopic probes of protein structure and function.
During his career, Staros has been awarded major external grant support by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Caroll and Milton Petrie Foundation and the American Chemical Society. He is the author or co-author of more than 70 scientific journal articles.
Staros is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society and its Biological Chemistry Division, American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biophysical Society (and two of its subgroups, Molecular Biophysics and Membrane Structure and Assembly), the Protein Society and the Sigma Xi honorary society.
He is married to Alice C. Harris, professor of linguistics and director of the Ph.D. program in linguistics at Stony Brook. Harris, who was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, is being recommended by Chancellor Holub for appointment to UMass Amherst’s nationally ranked linguistics department.
Staros and Harris have three grown children, a son-in-law and two grandchildren.