Melina Hale appointed dean of the College at the University of Chicago

Melina Hale has been appointed the next dean of the College at the University of Chicago, effective July 1.

A UChicago faculty member since 2002, Hale, PhD’98, has a deep knowledge of the University. She currently serves as the William Rainey Harper Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and the College and as a vice provost of the University.

In an email to the University community announcing the appointment, President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Katherine Baicker wrote that Hale was “exceptionally qualified to advance the College into the future.”

“As a renowned scholar, educator and administrator, Melina has both cultivated a rich understanding of the University’s intellectual culture and made lasting contributions to it over her decades-long career here,” said Alivisatos. “Looking ahead, she will steward the College’s distinctive legacy and champion its promising future.”

“The College is a vital part of our University, encouraging critical reflection and rigorous inquiry that allow students to make meaningful contributions to the world,” said Baicker. “Melina is deeply committed to the value of a liberal arts education. She is an exceptional scholar and thoughtful leader with a deep understanding of and appreciation for our unique academic community. I am thrilled that Melina will lead the College into its next chapter.”

Hale will succeed John W. Boyer, the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History, who has served as dean for more than 30 years, leading tremendous growth and innovation in the College during his tenure.

As dean, Hale will oversee the strategic vision for the College and will play a crucial role in advancing the University’s and the College’s fundamental values, while helping provide undergraduate students with a transformative educational experience.

“I am honored to serve as the next dean of the College and will work wholeheartedly to further the College’s leadership in deep and creative liberal arts education and its engagement with the principles and practice of free expression,” said Hale. “Our students are the heart of campus, and I look forward to hearing from them and working with them and colleagues across the University to further enhance academic opportunities and the student experience. I am also very eager to speak with alumni, families, and friends of the College to hear their experiences and ideas.”

Hale has led many key initiatives to advance the research and educational mission of the University, providing support to the Library, the University of Chicago Press, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, and the Center for Radical Innovation for Social Change, among others. She also has led many campus-wide initiatives related to administrative system improvements, budget modernization, and environmental research and sustainability. 

A distinguished neuroscientist, Hale focuses her research on the neural control of movement, and she collaborates with engineers to explore biological models that inform the design of engineered underwater propulsion systems. Hale has been named a National Academies/Howard Hughes Medical Institute education fellow, a fellow of the Institute for Defense Analysis and a National Science Foundation CAREER award recipient. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recently served as president of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. The University has honored Hale with its Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring as well as the Wayne C. Booth Graduate Student Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Hale is a member of the Committee on Neurobiology and the Committee on Computational Neuroscience at the University and served as co-interim director of the UChicago-affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory. She has served on the Council of the University Senate, the College Council and on the board of the UChicago Laboratory Schools. Hale was also a dean for faculty affairs in the Biological Sciences Division.

She earned a Ph.D. in organismal biology and anatomy from UChicago and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Duke University. Before joining the UChicago faculty, Hale was a postdoctoral fellow at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.