Announcing New Department Leadership

October 1, 2013 — It’s another busy academic year in the College of Arts and Sciences and with it comes some exciting changes in the leadership of our departments:

Department of Biology

John Bethea, PhD, has been appointed professor and head of the Department of Biology. Bethea is currently a professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine where he researches the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie spinal cord injury and diseases of the nervous system. Although he will not formally arrive until January 2014, Bethea will be making regular trips to Philadelphia throughout the fall. Joe Bentz, PhD, has graciously agreed to serve as interim department head until Bethea officially arrives. We look forward to the continued success of the biology department building on the outstanding leadership of Jeff Twiss, MD, PhD; the energy and enthusiasm of John Bethea, PhD; and the much-appreciated support of Joe Bentz, PhD.


Department of Chemistry

Chemistry alumnus Ira Taffer, PhD, has agreed to serve as interim head of the Department of Chemistry. Taffer received his BS and PhD in chemistry from Drexel and went on to co-found BIOMOL Research Laboratories, Inc., in Plymouth Meeting, for which he served as vice president and COO for over twenty years. Most recently, he served as vice president of global sales operations for Enzo Life Sciences International Inc., following four years as vice president of global operations and COO of BIOMOL International LP.

Taffer has been an active and highly valued member of the Drexel community for many years, serving on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board since 2000 and as an elected member of Drexel’s Alumni Board of Governors since 2004, where he served as chair of numerous committees including the Student Relations Committee. In 2013, he was elected chair of the Alumni Board and member of Drexel’s Board of Trustees. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Entrepreneur Award from Drexel in 2003.

Taffer’s experienced leadership will help to further develop and advance the chemistry department, building on the guidance of former department head, Reinhard Schweitzer-Stenner, PhD.


Department of History and Politics

Scott Barclay, PhD, head of the Department of History and Politics, has taken a one-year leave to serve as the Williams Senior Scholar in Public Policy at UCLA’s Williams Institute, where he will lead a research team to examine data on LGBT rights and issues.

During Barclay’s absence, two interim department heads have been appointed: Christian Hunold, PhD, for political science and Scott Knowles, PhD, for history. Both have graciously and enthusiastically agreed to serve in this co-head position, which presents a unique opportunity for the department to develop more precise identities for history and political science.

With the day-to-day attention of Hunold and Knowles, the continual input of Barclay, and the ongoing commitment of department faculty and staff, the 2013-2014 academic year should provide the foundation for exciting and focused programming in the future.