Liberal Arts

Welch to step down as dean of Liberal Arts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and professor of political science, will step down as dean, effective June 30, 2018.    

“For more than 25 years, Penn State has benefited from Susan Welch’s staunch commitment to teaching, research and administrative excellence,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost. “Her work in the College of the Liberal Arts and across the University has had so many positive impacts, and I cannot thank her enough for her service.”

A national search for Welch’s replacement will begin immediately, Jones said.

“It’s been a great honor to serve as dean of this college and to work with faculty and staff to move our departments and programs into leadership positions in their disciplines and to provide a world class education for our students,” Welch said.

Welch has served as dean of Liberal Arts since 1991, and is one of the longest serving deans in the history of Penn State, yet her achievements can not be measured simply by time in office.

Since arriving from the University of Nebraska in 1991, Welch has propelled the college to national leadership. Over two decades, Welch worked closely with University administrators, academic heads and faculty to develop and implement effective strategic plans and focus key resources on programs with great potential. Under her watch, five departments achieved a top ten ranking by the National Research Council — including her home department of political science — and six others achieved rankings in the top quarter in their field. 

In partnership with Liberal Arts faculty and alumni, Welch worked to create multi-disciplinary centers such as the Rock Ethics Institute, the Richards Civil War Era Center and the McCourtney Institute for Democracy; to increase faculty and graduate support through endowments; and to give Liberal Arts undergraduates an "edge" by establishing the Paterno Fellows Program, the Career Enrichment Network, and significantly increased scholarship aid for students. Welch's leadership propelled Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts into the top group of  liberal arts colleges nationwide.

In 2011, donors Doug and Julie Rock of The Woodlands, Texas, gave $5 million to the University to endow the “Susan Welch Dean’s Chair in the College of the Liberal Arts” in Welch’s honor.

In 2012, more than 280 alumni, friends, administrators, faculty and staff donated more than $3 million to Penn State to recognize Welch’s decades of service and dedication.

Her research focuses on American politics, particularly urban, ethnic and women’s politics. Welch’s current research interests include women as congressional candidates and the political science of the Holocaust.

She has authored more than 170 scholarly articles, six books and two textbooks. Welch was named as one of the most cited political scientists of her generation.

Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Justice.

Welch received her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970.       

Susan Welch is one of the longest serving deans in the history of Penn State. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 01, 2017