Feb 202007
Authors: Stephanie Gerlach

A Texas A&M University department head was recently named the new dean of the CSU Warner College of Natural Resources.

The search committee in charge of the selection process finalized its decision last week to name Joseph O’Leary as dean of the college, effective May 1.

O’Leary acknowledges that his being chosen by the committee is a reflection of his prior accomplishments, but is quick to add he’s far from perfect.

“I want to continue to improve the learning environment and provide leadership to the college, but I still have a bunch of things to learn,” O’Leary said.

The search committee -took more than six months to select candidates and interview them before naming the dean-elect.

Sandra Woods, the dean of engineering and the chairman of the search committee, said that although they interviewed from a worthy pool of finalists, O’Leary had a real vision for the college and seems to understand what the college needs.

“He had the right combination of experience, vision, enthusiasm and a real drive to help the college succeed,” Woods said. “I really feel the college will benefit from his leadership – he will be a great dean.”

Sally Sutton, the interim dean at the Warner College of Natural Resources, plans to continue as the interim department head of geoscience.

“Being the interim dean allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the position and about the college,” Sutton said. “I’m excited they offered (the position) to Dr. O’Leary.”

Since his instatement at Texas A&M in 2001, his department has shown significant growth in faculty, the size of the graduate program and the level of funding for research, O’Leary said.

O’Leary said he applied for the position because CSU has the type of program he wants to be associated with. Professors within the college have a goal of becoming a global leader in natural resources, he said.

“I think there is an enormous responsibility to address natural resource issues because natural resources are fundamental to people’s survival,” O’Leary said. “I have an advantage to take my experience and make a difference for people in Colorado.”

O’Leary says he wants to provide learning opportunities for students, improve the quality of education for natural resources students, diversify the college while increasing outreach projects and improve the quality of research to make a difference in the community.

“There’s always a way to improve learning opportunities for students and it’s really important for the college as part of their future vision,” O’Leary said.

Michael York, a freshman open option student, has several classes in the Warner College of Natural Resources. And he’s anxious for the some stability in his college.

“It’s definitely a great thing to have a permanent dean instead of always switching them out,” York said. “It will give the college more stability.”

Staff writer Stephanie Gerlach can be reached at news@collegian.com.


-Dr. O’Leary 101:

-Received his doctoral degree form the University of Washington in 1974.

-Received a master’s from Yale University in 1971.

-Currently a professor and department head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University.

-Previously a professor at Purdue University’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

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