Loyola University Vice-Provost Dr. Thom Spence to join Belmont
Dr. Thom Spence has been named as the founding dean of Belmont University’s new College of Sciences and Mathematics. Spence currently serves as the vice-provost for institutional effectiveness, assessment and student success at Loyola University (New Orleans, La.), where he has been a faculty member since 1999. Spence will begin his new position on Belmont’s campus July 1.
Currently, Belmont’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) is the University’s largest college with 130 full-time faculty members and 15 academic departments within four schools. Due to extensive growth as well as recognition of the complexity of the College, Belmont will create two colleges out of the former CAS. Spence will lead the new College of Sciences and Mathematics (CSM), which will include undergraduate majors in the biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and psychological sciences fields. CSM will be housed in the new Wedgewood Academic Center that is under construction at the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues and is scheduled to open this fall.
Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “Belmont’s focus on developing extraordinary academic programs provides the backdrop for the creation of two colleges from our current College of Arts and Sciences. This new organizational structure will allow all of the programs in the College of Arts and Sciences opportunities for increased prominence and student focus. I am extremely pleased to announce Dr. Spence—a leader who is committed to student and faculty development, undergraduate research and community engagement—as the founding dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Dr. Spence’s hiring not only brings an accomplished scientist to our campus, but his appointment allows Belmont to provide even greater focus on all of our science, technology and math programs as we work together to help prepare our graduates to engage and transform our world.”
Spence added, “I am very excited to be joining the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Belmont. This new college is poised to become a strong attractor for students interested in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields by offering excellent instruction in small classes with meaningful undergraduate research opportunities. I am grateful to be joining Belmont during this exciting time in its history.”
As the chief academic and executive officer for Belmont’s College of Sciences and Mathematics, Spence will be responsible for the programmatic leadership, financial management, personnel administration and planning and development for the College.
In his current role, Spence serves as Loyola’s vice-provost for institutional effectiveness, assessment and student success. In this position, he is responsible for overseeing several administrative offices including the Academic Resource Center, Student Records, Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and Loyola’s Upward Bound office. He also serves as Loyola’s Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges liaison and is responsible for the University’s accreditation efforts including development of its Quality Enhancement Plan. For six years prior to his appointment as vice-provost, Spence served as the chair of the Chemistry Department at Loyola where he led an active department of nine faculty members offering degrees in chemistry, biochemistry and forensic chemistry to more than 70 majors with a strong emphasis on undergraduate research.
Originally from Niceville Fla., Spence earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Birmingham-Southern College in 1992, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1997. Prior to joining Loyola, Spence was a postdoctoral research assistant in Dr. Dick Zare’s laboratory at Stanford University. In addition, in 2007 he held positions as both a visiting research scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (Nov.-Dec.) as well as a chancellor research fellow for the Australian Defense Force Academy at the University of New South Wales (Aug.-Nov.).
Dr. Bryce Sullivan, who currently services as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, will move to become the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), which will include the Schools of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. The new structure, as well as the new names for the colleges, will take effect on June 1, 2014.
The CSM and CLASS, along with Belmont’s School of Religion, will occupy the new 188,000 square foot, $76 million Wedgewood Academic Center, which will provide state-of-the-art laboratory and instructional spaces well-suited for engaged and transformative learning. There will be approximately 32,000 square feet devoted to CSM-related laboratories including an operational Green Roof, an ecology/zoology/botany lab, anatomy and physiology labs, an organic chemistry lab, a laser lab, a chemistry instrumentation lab, and many other specialized spaces.