Stony Brook University names David Wrobel as the new Dean of College...

Stony Brook University names David Wrobel as the new Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

David Wrobel. Photo by Travis Caperton, University of Oklahoma

Stony Brook University has named David Wrobel, PhD as the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Wrobel joins Stony Brook from the University of Oklahoma, where he currently serves as dean of the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences. His appointment at Stony Brook begins August 1, 2024.

In his new role, Wrobel will oversee the largest college at the university, managing 25 department chairs, 11 center/institute directors and five associate deans as well as serving as the main financial officer of CAS including managing and increasing research expenditures. CAS is a diverse and multifaceted college that serves approximately 70% of the student population across its 30 majors, 40+ minors, 25 departments, and 27 PhD programs. The Dean will work with the Advancement team to engage and inspire potential donors and secure additional funds to support the work of CAS. He will contribute to shaping CAS faculty by leading efforts to recruit and retain excellent teacher-scholars who embrace Stony Brook’s mission of inclusive teaching and scholarly, research, and creative excellence.

“Dr. Wrobel is an experienced administrator and renowned scholar who is exceptionally well-suited to lead CAS at Stony Brook. He and I have had many conversations already about the incredible strengths and potential in CAS among the faculty, staff, and students, and its many outstanding departments, centers, and programs,” said Carl Lejuez, provost and executive vice president.

Wrobel has served as dean of the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma since 2017, serving as interim for a year before being permanently appointed to the role in 2018. Under his leadership, he has worked with his team on a variety of significant achievements including:

  • navigating from inherited financial debt to a positive fiscal position;

  • securing the largest gift in OU history to name the college, as well as a $16 million gift to found a new quantum research center and two major department naming gifts;

  • implementing a strategic plan; establishing a School of Biological Sciences and a School of Population Health and Human Performance (pending regents’ approval); and

  • creating scholarships and programs to enhance support for underserved undergraduates, attract top graduate students, and support faculty research and creative activity.

At Oklahoma, Wrobel is the David L. Boren Professor and Merrick Chair of Western American History. He is an historian of the American West and American thought and culture, and has been recognized for excellence in teaching, research, and service. He was the inaugural recipient of the David L. Boren Professorship, one of the most prestigious honors at Oklahoma. Other honors include the Western Heritage Award for his nonfiction book, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression; the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences Holden Award for Teaching Excellence; and research fellowships from Yale University’s Beinecke Library, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library, and the American Philosophical Society.

Wrobel’s most recent book is America’s West: A History, 1890-1950 (2017). He is also the author of Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory and the Creation of the American West and The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal. His current book project is John Steinbeck’s Country: A Writer’s Defense of Democracy. Wrobel co-edits The Modern American West book series and serves on the editorial board for the Steinbeck Review, and for Montana: The Magazine of Western History.

He is also known for his work with teachers around the country, participating in and directing many teacher institutes sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, U.S. Department of Education, National Council for History Education and other organizations. He is past president of the Western History Association, the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch, and of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society.

Wrobel has also held positions at other higher education institutions including Widener University, Hartwick College and the College of Wooster. He holds a master’s and doctoral degrees in American Intellectual History from The Ohio University and earned a bachelor of arts degree in history/philosophy from the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. Wrobel was also department chair and professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“I am thrilled and honored to begin my work in support of the exceptional faculty, staff, and students of CAS at Stony Brook,” Wrobel said. “The College and Stony Brook exemplify the ideal and the purpose of a student-centered, public research university to ensure high levels of access and opportunity to advance social mobility, and to integrate students at all levels into the mission of creating and applying new knowledge and understanding of the physical world and the human condition to make our communities stronger. I look forward to joining the Stony Brook community and continuing my work of advocacy for and integration of the Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts at one of the nation’s leading public institutions of higher learning.”

Joining Wrobel in the move east are his wife, Janet Ward, PhD, and their three children. Ward will join the Provost’s Office in an associate provost role focused on support for the arts, humanities, and social sciences. At Oklahoma, she is Brammer Presidential Professor of History and faculty fellow for strategic initiatives in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences. She also served at Oklahoma as the inaugural faculty director of the Arts and Humanities Forum, as senior associate vice president for research and partnerships, and, most recently, as American Council on Education fellow at Yale University.


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