Kathryn Graff Low, professor of psychology and associate dean of the faculty, has been appointed interim dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, President Clayton Spencer announced today.
Low, whose appointment begins on July 1, will serve during the 2017–18 academic year pending the search for a new, permanent dean. Low succeeds Matthew Auer, who departs Bates on June 30 to become dean of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia.
“I am very grateful that Kathy has agreed to serve in this vitally important role during this transition year,” said Spencer. “Kathy is a widely respected member of the senior faculty, and because of her current role, she is uniquely situated to carry forward the work of the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.”
Spencer added, “I very much look forward to working with Kathy over the next year to advance the priorities of the faculty and to continue to strengthen the resources supporting the academic core of the college.”
“I am deeply honored to serve Bates in this way,” Low said. “I look forward to working with faculty colleagues to map out a plan for the year that will keep faculty processes moving forward and allow us, as appropriate, to continue to advance strategic priorities. The faculty are at the heart of the academic experience at Bates. I welcome the opportunity to work with this group of dedicated colleagues to provide an exceptional liberal arts experience that is consistent with our mission and history.”
In her current role as associate dean of the faculty for the sciences and social sciences, Low’s responsibilities include oversight of academic assessment, research compliance, departmental reviews, and Title IX compliance. She also serves as the Office of the Dean of Faculty’s director of faculty research and scholarship, overseeing the distribution of internal faculty grants; management of student research and other grant funds; and research mentoring, including training in responsible conduct of research.
In previous years, Low served as chair of the Department of Psychology and has served on a wide range of faculty committees related to personnel, educational policy, curriculum, and the academic calendar. She oversaw the successful completion of the college’s interim accreditation report, and participated in recent institutional planning efforts.
Before assuming the associate dean position, Low was also responsible for new faculty development activities, and she has successfully mentored faculty during their transition to Bates. In her current role, she is responsible for hiring visiting faculty and assists with faculty orientation and programming. This year, she is also co-leading the STEM diversity initiative, an effort designed to support all students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, for success in STEM fields.
A member of the Bates faculty for 27 years, Low has expertise in areas related to women’s health and sexual health, including sexual function, sexually transmitted infections, body image and weight, and cardiovascular disease. She has also published on college student mental health and well-being. A licensed clinical psychologist in Maine, Low has served on the staff of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Central Maine Medical Center.
Respect for Low’s teaching and research runs deep at Bates, typified by work with her former thesis student Nicolette Robbins ’11 that yielded groundbreaking research on asexual coming-out experiences. Robbins calls Low a model professor, clinician, and researcher who “always has a million things going on but she always makes time. Not many people have the opportunity to get that close and feel so supported by a professor.”
Low earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, master’s from Harvard University, and doctorate from Stanford University. Appointed to the Bates faculty in 1990, she was promoted to full professor in 2003 and has served as chair of the Department of Psychology.
The search committee for the next permanent dean will be formed this spring, with elections in April and the search will begin early next fall.