Schmittmann named next dean in Iowa State's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

AMES -- Beate (bay-AHT-uh) Schmittmann will become the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University on April 2, 2012. Schmittmann has been a member of the physics faculty at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, since 1991 and department chair since 2006.

"Members of our campus community were excited to meet and listen to Dr. Schmittmann, and I share that enthusiasm," said Elizabeth Hoffman, ISU executive vice president and provost. "She brings an outstanding background as a distinguished computational physicist, chair of a major department of physics and a leader in Virginia Tech's ADVANCE program. Thus, she combines research and educational excellence, administrative excellence and a commitment to diversity in STEM fields that is unparalleled. She will be a great asset to the Iowa State family."

During the years of Schmittmann's departmental leadership, annual research awards for physics faculty members grew from $1.99 million (2006) to $4.77 million (2011). The number of undergraduate majors grew from 112 to just over 200 and graduate student numbers rose from 55 to 75 during the same time period. She developed a physics faculty-mentoring program and initiated the development of online versions of the department's introductory physics courses, including lab components, to be offered during summer session. From 2003 to 2008, she served on the leadership team and from 2006 to 2010, as a co-principal investigator of Virginia Tech's ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation to increase both the participation and professional advancement of women in science and engineering fields in higher education.

"I am truly honored to serve as the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences," Schmittmann said. "The college is home to an amazing range of outstanding people and programs, and I look forward to working with the whole Iowa State community to guide LAS to new levels of excellence."

Previously, Schmittmann served as a research associate (1984-86) and assistant professor (1986-91) at the Institute for Theoretical Physics III, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society. Her research interests are in statistical physics and biological physics.

Schmittmann earned a diploma in physics from RWTH Aachen University, Germany; and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Former LAS dean Michael Whiteford retired from the university on June 30. David Oliver, professor of genetics, development and cell biology and associate dean for research in the college, is serving as interim dean.