Donald Straney, dean of the College of Science and professor of biology at Cal Poly Pomona, has been named chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. His appointment, which was finalized Friday afternoon, is for three years beginning July 1.
“I’m honored to join the University of Hawaii at Hilo,” Straney said. “The possibilities of a new position are exciting, but the prospects of leaving Cal Poly Pomona are difficult. It has been a privilege to work with so many great people across the university. They have taught me a lot and I will take the lessons as well as the friendships with me when I move to Hawaii.
“The work of this university is tremendously important. Each student in each class creates one more part of the future of California. I wish more people realized how hard the faculty and staff work to help our students prepare for their lives. But I know they will continue to do so, and that gives me hope for the future of the state.”
Straney joined Cal Poly Pomona in August 2002 after 23 years at Michigan State University, where he served as chair of the Department of Zoology and assistant to the provost for faculty development. An evolutionary biologist by training, Straney has studied patterns of change in a variety of organisms, most recently focusing on ants. He received a doctorate in zoology from UC Berkeley and both his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in zoology from Michigan State.
“Dean Straney has made exceptional contributions to Cal Poly Pomona,” Provost Marten denBoer said. “He has changed the culture of the College of Science and raised it to new levels of instructional and research success. His thoughtful and creative perspectives have guided decisions in his college and across the university. His experience and wisdom have been invaluable to me as a new provost.
“We are very sorry to see him go, but we take great pleasure and pride in his new appointment and wish him all the best. The University of Hawaii-Hilo is extremely fortunate to gain his talents.”
Giving students a hands-on learning experience has been one of Straney’s hallmarks at Cal Poly Pomona.
“We must help students go beyond the notion of simply ‘learning’ science and provide them with opportunities to apply their knowledge to address real problems,” he said.
Among his accomplishments at Cal Poly Pomona was his ability to bring outside resources to campus, including a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to enhance undergraduate instruction in biology, a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to support the professional development of science and engineering faculty, and a U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Enhancement grant to prepare the next generation of teachers.
He serves on the board of directors of both the Desert Studies Center and the Ocean Studies Institute, as well as on the Strategic Planning Council of the CSU’s Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. He also was an American Council of Education Academic Leadership Fellow, serving in that capacity in 1994-95.
University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood said the Hilo search committee had a strong pool of five final candidates and made an excellent choice.
“Donald Straney brings an impressive set of talents and expertise to the position,” Greenwood said. “His solid leadership record and background in the sciences will be great assets.”
The University of Hawaii at Hilo serves about 4,000 students on its 115-acre campus. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.