The College of Arts and Sciences Appoints Two New Departments Heads

November 24, 2009 — The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jeffery L. Twiss as Head of the Department of Biology, and Dr. Wesley Shumar as Head of the Department of Culture and Communication, effective September 1, 2009.

Dr. Jeffery Twiss, Head of the Department of Biology

Dr. Twiss comes to Drexel from the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington Delaware where he serves as the Principal Research Scientist for Nemours Biomedical Research and the Director of both the Center for Translational Neurobiology and the Histotechnology & Muscle Histochemistry Lab. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University and the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware.

Over the course of the past 16 years, Dr. Twiss has continually received substantial grant support from highly-recognized organizations including NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Science Foundation, and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. With a strong background in research, he stresses its important role in the educational experience:

“In retrospect, each research experience brought challenges and opportunities to expand my knowledge — the opportunity to interact directly with the faculty in the research setting was instrumental in shaping my career. I think that having a student in the research environment directly working with the professor and other researchers is one of the best means that we have to inspire students.”

With increased space and resources offered by the new Integrated Science Building, the next few years present an amazing opportunity for expanding the Department’s research projects. The increase in projects will be geared towards both graduate and undergraduate students within the department, but Dr. Twiss anticipates that interdisciplinary research will also grow.

In fact, at both Nemours and the University of Delaware, Dr. Twiss devoted much of his time to building intra- and inter-institutional collaborations. He reflects that while those relationships took the longest to build, they “seem to be the strongest and most fruitful.” Noting that there are several existing cross-campus collaborations at Drexel, he aims to reinforce department connections through targeted faculty recruitments. His vision of multidisciplinary partnerships will serve to expand and improve the national standing of the Department of Biology as well as that of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Shumar joined the faculty at Drexel in 1999, serving as Interim Department Head from 2006 to 2007 and as Assistant Department Head from 2007 to 2009. He was a central figure in the creation of the new PhD program in Communication as well as in the development of the undergraduate major in Anthropology.

Dr. Wes Shumar, Head of the Department of Culture and Communication

Dr. Shumar’s research focuses on the transformation of American universities in the age of consumerism. His book, College for Sale: A Critique of the Commodification of Higher Education, is considered a “must-read” by students of higher education. He is specifically interested in the value of service learning and its ability to restore a civil and moral purpose to education. In addition, Dr. Shumar is interested in the ethnography of virtual communities in education. These interests have led to his work with The Math Forum, a virtual math education community and resource center. Since 1997, he has received continued and substantial grant support from the National Science Foundation for his work with The Math Forum, and is currently part of a team of advisors to NSF who are helping to evaluate the National Science Digital Library program.

Proven to be someone in whom the College has great confidence, Dr. Shumar exemplifies the strong spirit and energy of the Department of Culture and Communication. His personal research combines aspects of anthropology, sociology, and communication— vital components of the department. He has continually demonstrated his commitment to all aspects of the University, ranging from faculty governance to interactions with both students and the larger Philadelphia community. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Shumar on his appointment. We are confident that the department will thrive under his leadership.

We would like to offer a warm welcome to the new Department Heads and share in their vision for their respective departments.

- by Maia Livengood