Coleen Pugh named new dean of WSU Graduate School


Coleen PughColeen Pugh, a professor of Polymer Science at the University of Akron (Ohio), has been named the new dean of the Wichita State University Graduate School and associate vice president for Research and Technology Transfer, effective July 28.

Pugh will take over from Kerry Wilks, who has been serving as interim Graduate School dean since January 1, 2019, when then Dean Dennis Livesay was named dean of WSU’s College of Engineering.

Provost Rick Muma made the appointment and said, “Pugh will focus immediately on connecting the graduate school’s priorities to WSU’s focus as an urban public research university by growing graduate program enrollment, developing innovative academic offerings for students seeking new degree options and alternative credentials, building, leading and growing university-wide, faculty-based research initiatives, and increasing private fundraising to support graduate school initiatives.”

Pugh will continue to create funded research at Wichita State with a new polymer synthesis lab, which will be an important addition to the university’s ongoing efforts in materials and advanced manufacturing research. This will also enable her to monitor current trends in research directions, and challenges and opportunities in funding.  

Some of Pugh’s other work she hopes to bring to WSU is in the creation of plant-based composites built almost entirely out of biomass.

“I’m excited for the breadth of experience and knowledge Dr. Pugh will bring to the Graduate School,” said Muma. “In particular, her research expertise in polymer science aligns with current and future research priorities of the university and provides new opportunities for students and fellow researchers.”

Pugh’s approach will be to emphasize new collaborative faculty-led research projects and grants.

“Part of my attraction to WSU is the willingness to experiment and collaborate, which is important in my line of work to push the boundaries and look for new directions,” Pugh said.

Pugh has spent the past 20 years in the Department of Polymer Science (DPS) in the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron.

She has served as DPS department chair and the university’s Graduate Council of the Faculty Senate.

Pugh earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Davis, in textile science and chemistry before going on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in macromolecular science from Case Western Reserve University.

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