Tate named next dean of Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, vice provost for graduate education


William F. Tate, PhD, the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences and chair of the Department of Education at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named the next dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and vice provost for graduate education.

Tate will succeed Richard J. Smith, PhD, who steps down July 1 after six years as dean. Smith will return to teaching in the Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences.

The announcement was jointly made by Holden Thorp, PhD, provost, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences and of medicine; and by Barbara A. Schaal, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor.

“We are extremely grateful for Rich’s excellent leadership of the Graduate School,” Thorp and Schaal wrote in an announcement emailed to the WUSTL community Jan. 17.

“During his tenure, Rich significantly reduced the average time to degree of our doctoral candidates. He refocused teaching assistantships to better meet the needs of our students as scholars-in-training. Rich has provided crucial leadership to our community in articulating the value and importance of the research university — and the PhD we confer — to our society at large.

“We want to thank him for his extraordinary service and look forward to welcoming him back to the faculty, where we hope he will continue to serve for some time.

“Bill is a strong successor to Rich and will be the first dean to hold the additional title of vice provost for graduate education to more accurately reflect the position’s far-ranging responsibilities,” they wrote.

“Bill brings to his new role exceptional experience and the right leadership at this important time for the university.”

The dean of the Graduate School awards all the master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees at Washington University. The dean also works closely with the Olin Business School, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, the School of Medicine and the Brown School in supervising doctoral students in these schools’ PhD programs.

There are more than 1,800 students enrolled in more than 50 programs leading to the PhD and in 19 programs leading to master’s degrees.

Tate will guide the university’s graduate education programming, supporting the development of outstanding graduate students in their pursuit of a wide range of advanced degrees.

‘Transdisciplinary collaboration’

Deanna Barch, PhD, the Couch Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine and professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences, chaired the search committee.

“Bill Tate comes to this position with a wealth of academic experience and wisdom, as well as a background in transdisciplinary collaboration,” Barch said.

“He has thought deeply about the challenges and opportunities facing graduate education in the world broadly and at Washington University specifically. As such, he will help to further strengthen an already outstanding graduate school and guide us into a new phase of leadership in graduate education at Washington University.”

“I believe graduate education plays at least two significant roles that impact society,” Tate said. “One role is to develop a talent pool able to support and to lead the discovery process within and across disciplines, focusing on the most pressing problems.

“A second role is more custodial, yet equally important,” Tate continued. “Graduate education involves not only supporting discovery, but serving as the forum for engaging that which was once known but is at risk of oversight.

“My passion is to support the advancement of these two roles. I look forward to working with my faculty colleagues, students and staff in pursuit of continued excellence in graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis.”

A member of the faculty of Arts & Sciences since 2002, Tate is recognized as a nationally prominent scholar who has made significant contributions to his fields of study.

His scholarly interests converge at the intersection of four independent areas: (1) human capital development in mathematics, engineering, technology and science; (2) adolescent development and health; (3) political economy of urban metropolitan regions; and (4) leadership in public-private human services alliances and research collaborations.

Assessing educational disparities

At the heart of Tate’s research and teaching is the overarching goal of contributing to an American educational model that benefits every student.

Much of his scholarly pursuits have been aimed at assessing the causes for alarming rates of racial disparities in educational outcomes, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and in providing remedies.

He is one of the university’s most enthusiastic supporters of interdisciplinary scholarship and collaboration, and is highly respected university-wide.

In addition to chairing the education department, Tate holds academic appointments in American Culture Studies, Urban Studies, and African and African-American Studies, all in Arts & Sciences, as well as in the Institute for Public Health.

He also directs Washington University’s Center for the Study of Regional Competitiveness in Science and Technology, and he recently served as a faculty fellow in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

His administrative experience is further enhanced by service on a number of key university committees. Some of these include the executive committees for the American Culture Studies Program, Applied Statistics and Computation Program and Center, the Interdisciplinary Urban Studies Program, and the Center on Urban Research and Public Policy.

He has personal knowledge of the graduate experience at Washington University having earned a master’s degree in psychiatric epidemiology from the School of Medicine in 2011.

Tate also holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northern Illinois University; a master’s in mathematical sciences education from the University of Texas at Dallas; and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

A prolific author, Tate has published several books and nine school mathematics textbooks, and his research appears in scores of scholarly journals, book chapters, monographs and edited volumes.

He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), which is dedicated to advancing scholarly research and its practical application. His service to AERA, which includes serving as its president and editor of its journal, spans his entire professional career.

Among the honors he has received for excellence in the classroom and in research include the Outstanding Scholar Award in Education from the University of Maryland and an Early Career Award and Outstanding Scholar Award from AERA. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Schaal, a longtime colleague, expressed confidence in Tate’s ability to lead the future course of graduate education at Washington University.

“Bill Tate is one of the university’s most distinguished scholars,” Schaal said. “In addition to his deep and diverse academic expertise, he brings vision and leadership to the position. His broad perspective of the academic enterprise will help guide graduate education as it becomes increasingly interdisciplinary.”