Contact: Patti LaSalle

August 29, 2005


DALLAS (SMU) — Dr. Jasper Neel, dean of Dedman College and vice provost of SMU, has announced that he will step down from his administrative position when his current contract ends, August 15, 2006. After taking a yearlong sabbatical leave, he will join the faculty of SMU’s Department of English in fall 2007.

Dr. Neel came to SMU in June 1997. He has served as dean longer than anyone since SMU merged its University College with the School of Humanities and Sciences to form what is now Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Dedman College enrolls more than 4,200 students and has a full-time faculty of about 260.

Major achievements of Dedman College under Dr. Neel’s leadership include:

  • The new Dedman Life Sciences Building, including a pre-medical studies center, which opened in 2001.
  • Renovation of Fondren Science Building, housing Departments of Chemistry and Physics.
  • Establishment of a Ph.D. program in Chemistry and new interdisciplinary majors such as Markets and Culture.
  • Restoration of Sociology to full departmental status.
  • Redevelopment of the Ph.D. program in Psychology and new facilities for the Psychology Department’s Family Research Center.

“Jasper Neel has presided over Dedman College during a period of significant advancement, and we look forward to his continuing leadership during the 2005-06 academic year,” said Dr. R. Gerald Turner, SMU president. “Although Dr. Neel will be missed in the dean’s office, he will bring added strength to the English faculty when he assumes his teaching responsibilities.”

Dr. Neel came to SMU from Vanderbilt University, where he was chair of the Department of English. He is an award-winning author of texts about the art of writing, which include Aristotle’s Voice: Rhetoric, Theory, and Writing in America and Plato, Derrida, and Writing.

According to Dr. Robert Blocker, the newly appointed provost at SMU, “Dean Neel has provided distinctive leadership to Dedman College that sought to elevate the academic excellence of the College, that kept students at the center of the enterprise, and that extended the influence of Dedman College far beyond the campus.”

Dr. Blocker will appoint a national search committee this fall to seek a successor for Dr. Neel as dean of Dedman College.