Campus News

Pitman to step down as dean of College of Arts and Sciences


Published October 23, 2015

“Bruce has enormous commitment to the liberal arts as the foundation of a great university. ”
Provost Charles F. Zukoski
E. Bruce Pitman.

E. Bruce Pitman

E. Bruce Pitman is stepping down as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), effective July 1, after a successful five-year tenure that has seen numerous accomplishments, including development of the college’s first-ever strategic plan — CAS@20 — that resulted in the hiring more than 120 new faculty members. He will return to a full-time faculty role as a researcher and educator.

Pitman has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the university’s largest and most diverse academic unit, since July 2011.

During his tenure, CAS launched numerous initiatives across the disciplines to enhance scholarly impact and interactions. In 2014, in collaboration with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Pitman led the creation of an innovative, cross-disciplinary initiative to leverage faculty strengths in materials science, engineering and informatics to meet demands for accelerated materials’ discovery and development in advanced manufacturing, energy and biotechnology. This initiative led to the establishment of UB’s Department of Materials Design and Innovation.

The university will launch a national search early in 2016 and the next dean is expected to be in place by the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year, said UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski.

“Bruce has enormous commitment to the liberal arts as the foundation of a great university. He has repeatedly demonstrated his belief in the power of education to transform lives and over his five-year tenure as dean he has laid a solid foundation on which the college will continue to advance.” Zukoski said.

"During Bruce’s tenure as dean, he championed interdisciplinary ‎collaboration furthering imagining possibilities in our research and academic program domains," said President Satish K. Tripathi. "Bruce is a consummate university citizen and an integral part of our university community."

Under Pitman’s leadership, the college has been instrumental in establishing the Center for Excellence in Writing, a center to support student writing across the university, and in creating UB RENEW, a multidisciplinary Community of Excellence focused on energy, water and the environment. Working with the vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement, Pitman brought on a director of constituent and alumni engagement in the CAS to create programming and events to benefit students and alumni.

To stimulate scholarly and creative production in the arts and humanities, and provide new opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with artists and scholars, the college launched several initiatives under Pitman, including endowed visiting professorships in the arts and humanities, the Technē Institute and, most recently, the Creative Arts Initiative.

Pitman joined the UB faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor in the Department Mathematics. He subsequently was promoted to associate and full professor. Prior to his appointment as dean, he served as vice provost for educational technology from 2000-03 and as associate dean for research and sponsored programs from 2003-11.

Throughout more than 15 years in various administrative positions, he has sustained an active research program and continues publishing papers and receiving research grant awards. Working with colleagues at the Center for Computational Research, he has organized since 1999 an annual workshop on computational science for Western New York high school students.

“The college is a very different place from what it was in 2011,” Pitman said. “Working with the department chairs and the dean’s office staff, we have made terrific strides. CAS is well-positioned for the next several years.”

One year after assuming the dean’s position, Pitman began the college’s strategic planning process.

CAS@20 elevated the college’s and the university’s reputational standings among the nation’s elite universities by helping to attract the best faculty and students possible.

New faculty hiring was among the five strategies, which also included improved research support for the faculty, enriched student experiences, greater support for faculty and students to engage the community, and improved communication with university partners through an enhanced social media presence, used to achieve the plan’s objective.

Other initiatives emerging from CAS@20 included the College Ambassadors program, an initiative of undergraduate students giving service to their home departments and the college, and, in collaboration with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a Women in Science and Engineering program.

To be more responsive to student and faculty needs, Pitman created an office of graduate recruitment and a communications office. Since January, the college has been developing a series of new and revitalized master’s degree programs, providing graduate students a range of options in which to continue their studies. With the help of philanthropic gifts, new initiatives in experiential learning for undergraduate students have been started. The college also is at the heart of the new UB Curriculum program for general education.

Pitman served as chair of the search committees that resulted in the hiring of Liesl Folks as dean of engineering and in Jose Aviles being hired as director of admissions.

Pitman holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Northwestern University and earned a PhD in mathematics from Duke University in 1985.