Wellman named dean of academic planning for Arts & Sciences


Christopher “Kit” Wellman, PhD, chair and professor of philosophy in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named dean of academic planning for Arts & Sciences, announced Barbara A. Schaal, PhD, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences.

The appointment, which is part-time, is effective July 1.

Wellman will succeed Henry L. Roediger III, PhD, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences, who has held the position for nearly eight years.

Roediger, who first held the dean of academic planning position from 2004-10, will step down at the end of this academic year after holding the position again since January 2013. He has also served on the Arts & Sciences Academic Planning Committee almost continuously since 1997.

“In his many years of service, Roddy’s leadership and insight were invaluable to academic planning and strategic development in Arts & Sciences,” said Schaal, who is the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences.

For a Q&A with Roediger about his years as the first dean of academic planning for Arts & Sciences, visit The Ampersand.

“Kit is an experienced academic leader and has already proven himself through his engaged and committed service to Arts & Sciences. I look forward to working more closely with him and to gaining the humanities perspective that he will bring to the position,” Schaal said.

“It is obviously a daunting assignment to follow in Roddy’s footsteps, but I was extremely flattered to be asked to serve in this capacity, and I look forward to doing whatever I can to help Dean Schaal,” Wellman said.

When Wellman joined Washington University’s Department of Philosophy in 2004 as an associate professor, it was a department he knew well.

His father, Carl Wellman, PhD, emeritus professor of philosophy and the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, has been a member of the philosophy faculty since 1968.

“I wanted to return to St. Louis principally because I had witnessed firsthand how teaching at Washington University had allowed my father to combine his role as a wonderfully attentive parent with an enormously rich and rewarding academic career,” said Wellman, who previously had been director of the Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics at Georgia State University for six years.

“I expected to like being on the faculty at Washington University, but I was surprised to find that the best thing, by a wide margin, has been my time in the classroom with these amazing students,” Wellman said.

And, obviously, outside the classroom with students as well. Since summer 2013, Wellman has lived on the South 40 as a faculty fellow, along with his wife and two boys, ages 10 and 12.

Wellman, who has been chair of the philosophy department since July 2010, is an active member of the Academic Planning Committee.

In his new role, Wellman will provide vital assistance in matters of academic planning and strategy for Arts & Sciences.

Wellman’s research area is in ethics, specializing in political and legal philosophy. The two topics on which he has written most extensively are our rights to political self-determination (including secession) and our political obligations (especially the duty to obey the law).

His books include “A Theory of Secession: The Case for Political Self-Determination” (2005); “Is There a Duty to Obey the Law?” with John Simmons (2005); and “Liberal Rights and Responsibilities: Essays on Citizenship and Sovereignty” (2013). His most recent book, titled “Rights Forfeiture and Punishment,” is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.