News Releases

Chemistry Scholar Named Oberlin's New Dean of Arts and Sciences

February 13, 2014
Communications Staff

OBERLIN, OH—Timothy E. Elgren, a distinguished teacher-scholar in the chemical sciences, has been named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Elgren comes to Oberlin with a wealth of experience in the liberal arts. He is currently a professor of chemistry at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he has been aggressive in his pursuit of external funding for both his teaching and research interests. At Hamilton, Elgren has served as affirmative action officer and associate dean. In those positions, he worked closely with the vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty, as well as other senior officers, faculty, and trustees on a variety of initiatives.

A champion of undergraduate research, Elgren brings an expertise in biophysical chemistry. His current research efforts deal with environmental toxins. In his lab at Hamilton, he has collaborated with students and coauthored papers with undergraduates in a number of publications. He has taught and implemented courses in environmental science, the scientific and social perspectives on HIV/AIDS, and an innovative course combining introductory chemistry and civic engagement, among others. His dedication to teaching was acknowledged with the John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award at Hamilton.

At Oberlin, Elgren will oversee budgetary and administrative responsibility for 35 academic departments and will report to President Marvin Krislov. He begins July 1.

“We are thrilled to welcome Timothy Elgren as our dean of arts and sciences,” says Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov. “Tim comes to Oberlin as a veteran educator and administrator in the liberal arts. He has been nationally recognized for his scholarly work and for his dedication to the support of undergraduate research, and he has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to including diverse perspectives and equity in the campus community.”

Elgren has a personal commitment to issues of equity and diversity. His work on college access at Hamilton has involved improving access to educational opportunities for underrepresented students from the Oneida Indian Nation and single mothers receiving welfare. Similarly, he has been active in developing ways to diversify the faculty at Hamilton.

“The committee is unanimous and effusive in our support for Tim,” notes the search committee chair, Professor Laurie McMillin. “We were especially impressed with Tim’s commitments to diversity issues, his creativity and breadth of thought, as well as his deep engagement with environmental issues. His work in the areas of equity and environmental justice are central to who Tim is, and we’re thrilled that he’s willing to join us in shaping Oberlin’s future.”

Vivyan Adair, a close colleague and professor of women’s studies at Hamilton College, describes Elgren as a brilliant scientist, dedicated and able teacher, and inspiring and supportive colleague. “What I find remarkable is Tim’s ability to transcend boundaries,” Adair says. “He inspires and fosters work both within and at the intersection of disciplinary boundaries, and supports collaborations among scholars with disparate perspectives and experiences of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

“As a women's studies scholar dedicated to teaching and working with populations often excluded from the kind of educational experiences available at Oberlin and at Hamilton—and as a former welfare recipient and homeless and single parent myself—it is Tim's commitment to the potential and relevance of a shared construction and critique of knowledge that I find most valuable and most extraordinary.”

Adair says Elgren models and lives a commitment to the process of a liberal arts education. “In the throes of guiding, nurturing, and challenging his colleagues, he remains one of the most generous, engaged, clever, and steady scholar-educators and academic leaders I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with. The Oberlin community is indeed fortunate to have him as its own now.”

Elgren says he is excited to get to work. “I am thrilled and honored to be joining Oberlin College with its extraordinary students, gifted and dedicated teacher-scholars, and rich traditions of inclusion, social justice, and academic excellence,” says Elgren. “My family and I look forward to immersing ourselves in the Oberlin community.”

Elgren earned his bachelor’s degree at Hamline University in 1984 and his PhD at Dartmouth College in 1989. He joined the faculty of Hamilton College in 1993. In his tenure there, he has received $1.5 million in external funding for research projects. He and his wife, Gail Johnson, a physician, have two children.

Elgren succeeds Sean Decatur, who became president of Kenyon College in 2013.

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