Dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI, USA 🇺🇸


The School of Freshwater Sciences (SFS) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is seeking to hire a Dean. The Dean is the chief academic and executive officer of the school. Reporting directly to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Dean is responsible for all instructional, research, and outreach programs of the school, including the substantial community and public service component that is crucial to the strength of the school and vital to the State of Wisconsin, the Great Lakes region, and beyond.

The Dean provides strategic leadership and promotes excellence in all phases of the school’s activities, including education, research and scholarship, faculty recruitment and development, service, and outreach. The Dean is responsible for quality of academic instruction, growing enrollment, and retention of students in academic programs.

The school looks to the Dean: 1) to support the growth of its research portfolio; 2) to hire, develop, and retain outstanding faculty members and scientists; and 3) to oversee, maintain, and grow the marine operations and research resources of the school in a fashion worthy of its status as the largest oceanographic-style research institute on the Great Lakes. This includes maintaining and growing partnerships with government agency and non-profit collaborators.

The Dean is expected to pursue innovative strategies for financial support of SFS programs, including developing multiple funding streams to ensure long-term success. The Dean fosters relationships with international and national funding agencies, as well as the private sector. The Dean is expected to work with governmental funders at the municipal, state, and federal levels to increase operating and research support of the school. The Dean also partners with the Office of University Advancement to support a robust fundraising program for SFS.

In addition, the Dean serves as the primary face of SFS to elected officials, policymakers, community leaders, stakeholders, strategic partners, and donors. The Dean is responsible for the school’s service and outreach to community—something of a calling card for SFS—as well enhancing the school’s stature as a world-class research and educational institution.

Goals and Challenges

The Dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences will have the opportunity to establish a cohesive vision with faculty, scientists, and community partners. Under the Dean’s guidance, and through shared governance with faculty, SFS will enlarge its reach through collaborative programs across the Great Lakes region, the U.S. and the world.  

Among the goals and challenges the Dean must address are:

  • Leading a multidisciplinary, oceanographic-style research institute with a full marine operation program, numerous research centers and support labs, as well as an array of academic programs;
  • Attracting resources through diverse revenue streams that will allow SFS to recruit the best scholars and students to achieve its vision;
  • Growing the school’s freshwater and atmospheric sciences research programs and supporting faculty efforts to secure research funding in order to increase research activity and publications;
  • Supporting significant recruitment efforts to grow the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs;
  • Managing the school’s approximately $5 million annual operating budget while leading SFS through the challenging budgetary environment in higher education.


The UWM School of Freshwater Sciences is the only school in the U.S. dedicated solely to the study of freshwater. The school is highly transdisciplinary and includes aquatic sciences, atmospheric sciences and water policy, economics and management. Founded in 2009 as the School of Freshwater Sciences, it builds upon more than 50 years of expertise in the Laurentian Great Lakes and other freshwater systems around the world. Formerly the Center for Great Lakes Studies and the Great Lakes WATER Institute, it is today the largest water-focused academic research institution located directly on the Great Lakes.

SFS focuses on advancing knowledge of freshwater systems and their management through basic and applied research; educating future scientists, technicians, teachers, policy specialists and the public; and growing appreciation of natural and constructed aquatic systems. The school is the lead institution for the University of Wisconsin System-wide Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin. 

SFS is dedicated to five essential integrated themes:

  • Freshwater system dynamics
  • Human and ecosystem health
  • Freshwater technology
  • Freshwater policy, economics, and management
  • Atmospheric science/weather and climate

The school is home to a strong cadre of internationally recognized faculty and scientists from natural and social science disciplines including, but not limited to, atmospheric science, biology, microbiology, biogeochemistry, oceanography, limnology, fish nutrition, environmental law, and environmental economics. Faculty from other UWM academic units in disciplines such as engineering, public health, and geosciences also hold appointments within the school, diversifying and enriching its research and teaching base. This breadth of experience provides the foundation for innovative research collaborations and academic programs that are expanding our understanding of multifaceted aquatic and climate systems and educating tomorrow’s freshwater and atmospheric scientists and professionals.

SFS has more than $5.5 million in annual research expenditures. Extramural research grant activity is typically $2.5 million annually, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other agencies. SFS faculty and scientists have earned national and international reputations for research and scientific advances in understanding and managing freshwater systems. Current research strengths include:

  • Freshwater system dynamics, including biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem dynamics, hydrologic cycles and water supplies, food web dynamics, fish physiology and ecology;
  • Freshwater systems and human and ecosystem health impacts, sustainability of the urban coastal environment, and monitoring public health through wastewater;
  • Impacts of emerging environmental contaminants in aquatic systems, e.g., pharmaceuticals and nanoparticles;
  • Water law, policy, and economics, including recreational valuation, estimating water treatment costs, addressing issues of social justice and equity;
  • Freshwater/aquaculture technology, urban aquaculture, environmentally sustainable and biosecure aquaculture; and
  • Weather/climate systems and ecosystems forecasting, including machine learning and climate change dynamics in Great Lakes systems.

Currently the school includes 20 faculty and research scientists, 4 emeritus faculty and scientists, 16 affiliate and adjunct faculty/scientists, 11 research technicians/staff, and 17 administrative staff members.

SFS offers PhD, MS, and BS degrees in both freshwater sciences and atmospheric science, with a diverse array of program options. More information can be found on the school’s academics page. Originally a graduate program only, in 2021 the school launched its undergraduate program in freshwater sciences, which is seeing rapid growth. Recruiting and growing these programs is a significant priority. Currently the school has more than 110 students across its programs.

SFS is home to the Great Lakes Genomics Center, the Center for Water Policy, and the Innovative Weather Center. The school’s Great Lakes Research Facility is located on the Milwaukee harbor and has direct access to Lake Michigan. In 2014, UWM opened a $53 million state-funded addition to the original building, and today it houses 200,000 square feet of laboratory, marine operations, classroom, and office space. The facility houses biosecure and quarantine labs, an array of aquaria and life support systems, a suite of analytical chemistry labs, a DNA sequencing lab, a machine shop, a robotics and buoy lab, marine operations spaces, and 1,400 feet of protected dock space, among other resources. The school maintains a research fleet that includes the 70-foot R/V Neeskay, which operates on Lake Michigan year-round. SFS is currently raising funds for a 123-foot replacement, which will be custom built and become the most advanced research vessel on the Great Lakes. At the time of this position posting, the school has raised $13 million toward its philanthropic fundraising goal.  

Onsite collaborators located within the Great Lakes Research Facility include the USGS – Upper Midwest Water Science Center, Water Quality Monitoring; Wisconsin Sea Grant Program; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Lake Michigan Fisheries Management Unit; Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin; Harbor District Inc.; Southeast Wisconsin Watershed Trust; and Milwaukee Riverkeeper. It is the homeport of the U.S. EPA’s R/V Lake Guardian, the largest research vessel operating on the Great Lakes, and houses the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Fish Tissue Archive. In addition, SFS is a member of the NOAA sponsored Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research and an associate member of the National Association of Marine Laboratories.

Already known for its flourishing collaborative research partnerships around the world, SFS is a premier center of research and teaching on freshwater ecology, technology, policy and atmospheric sciences. The school’s unique location on Lake Michigan and in an urban center, combined with its reputation for fundamental and applied research and its strong collaborations with public and private entities, position the school as a major hub for those partnering to manage the Great Lakes in the most economically beneficial and environmentally sound ways, and to apply those lessons to water issues worldwide.

To learn more about the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences, visit


Designated as an R1 research institution, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee provides an affordable, world-class education to 23,000 students from 87 countries and is an engine for innovation in southeastern Wisconsin. As one of the nation’s top research universities, UWM partners with leading companies in Wisconsin and beyond to advance knowledge, bring new discoveries to market, and prepare students for work in a global economy. The Princeton Review named UWM a 2021 Best Midwestern University based on overall academic excellence and student reviews. Wisconsin and its employers benefit directly from UWM’s research and graduates. The university has a $1.5 billion impact on the state economy and produces about 5,300 graduates a year, 80 percent of whom remain in Wisconsin to live and work. As of 2022, UWM has more than 200,000 alumni.

The university’s reach goes well beyond its beautiful 93-acre campus. UWM is a central catalyst and partner in the Milwaukee 7, a regional collaborative focused on enhancing the economic well-being of the city of Milwaukee and the seven counties that comprise the southeast region of Wisconsin. The Milwaukee 7 fosters an environment of collaborative thinking—bringing all of the region’s assets to bear in meeting key economic challenges and attracting new talent, investment, and industry to the area.

UWM students represent today’s increasingly diverse world. More than one-third of students are the first in their families to attend college, and 25 percent self-identify as students of color. Designated as a 2022-23 Top 10 Military Friendly institution among large public universities, UWM is the largest educator of veterans in Wisconsin, with more than 1,000 enrolled each year under the federal G.I. bill. In 2021, Campus Pride Index named UWM as one of the Best of the Best Top 30 LGBTQ-friendly postsecondary institutions in the United States.


UWM seeks candidates with a strong record of professional accomplishment, commitment to excellence in both research and teaching, and outstanding management and leadership skills to serve as the Dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences. The Dean must be an educational and research leader with the following minimum qualifications:

  • Professional and scholarly achievements sufficient to be tenured as a full professor;
  • A record of creating and disseminating knowledge in water research or closely related field; and
  • Experience managing or supporting the management of an academic/research unit or equivalent, including budget, grants and other external funds development, personnel, and communications management.

The following qualifications are preferred:

  • Demonstrated experience serving in leadership positions in a research-focused academic and/or research institute setting, including:
    • Record of effective leadership, strategic decision-making and problem solving within an institutional setting;
    • A dedication to participative and collegial management and transparency;
    • Demonstrated experience working with a wide range of disciplines and degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels;
    • Successful record of integrating research, teaching, and public and professional service as part of a balanced educational program.
  • Experience managing budgets and personnel in an academic and/ or research setting.
  • Experience or capacity for developing diverse funding streams to further research and educational goals, including but not limited to:
    • Demonstrated experience working with—and growing resources from—state, federal and international agencies and entities to support research and education.
    • Demonstrated experience raising funds from philanthropic partners, including individuals, corporations, foundations and, if applicable, institutional alumni.
  • Familiarity with aquatic and atmospheric sciences related to the Laurentian Great Lakes or other large aquatic systems.
  • Understanding of how water systems are affected by various societal sectors, including agriculture, industry, urban environments, recreation, and policy.
  • Demonstrated experience working with diverse personnel and constituents—or faculty, staff, and students in an academic environment—to create a positive climate that nurtures achievement and innovation.
  • Effective communicator with the ability to engage the community and raise the national and international research and academic profile of the school.


Applications and nominations will remain confidential. Candidate screening will begin January 16, 2023, but review will continue until the position is filled. Applications received after this date may not receive full consideration. Applicants should provide a letter describing relevant experiences and interest in the position, curriculum vitae, a diversity statement, and names of five references with titles, addresses, and e-mail addresses. Individuals who wish to nominate a candidate should submit a letter of nomination, including name, position, address, telephone number, and email address of the nominee.

Applications should be electronically submitted via PDF or MS Word to

Visit the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee website at and the School of Freshwater Sciences website at

UWM is a state agency and subject to Wisconsin’s Open Records Law. UWM will not, however, reveal the identities of applicants who request confidentiality in writing except as may be required by Wisconsin’s Open Records Law. In certain circumstances, the identities of final candidates and/or the identity of the appointed applicant must be revealed upon request.

UWM is an AA/EO employer: All applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, or protected veteran status.





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