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Susan Steele named as new head
of undergraduate education

Susan M. Steele, associate vice president of the University of Arizona and a linguistics expert, has been appointed as the new vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction, Chancellor Mark Emmert announced Tuesday.

"Susan brings with her academic and administrative experience and an impressive record of accomplishment," Emmert said. "At the University of Arizona, she has led an effort to restructure the undergraduate educational experience. Her administrative work has focused on instructional support and development, academic assessment, and curricular management. I am most excited that she will be joining us."

Steele, who will begin January 1, replaces Judith Meyer, who has served as interim vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction.

"I'm tremendously excited to be coming to the University of Connecticut," Steele said. "The University is poised at a very critical and interesting time in terms of its future direction. I'm looking forward to being part of that development. We're in a unique position because we are a research institution. We are able to provide an enhanced undergraduate education because of our breadth and diversity. It's very exciting for students."

Steele said she is impressed by the University's current focus on undergraduate education.

"All of the pieces that have been assembled for the undergraduate experience are critical and exactly the pieces needed to accomplish what we need. It's very well designed and thought out. I won't have to spend a lot of time assembling those pieces - I commend the University for that," she said.

The University's recent initiatives to strengthen undergraduate education include the First Year Experience Program, which has enhanced the experience of new students by offering them a series of elective courses that help them get to know faculty, staff, other students and the resources at UConn, as well as develop learning skills. Overall, faculty have increased their focus on teaching, with expanded programming by the Institute for Teaching and Learning and increased emphasis on the use of technology, both in upgraded classrooms and computer-based assignments. Attention has also been focused on the general education curriculum with a grant from the Hewlett Foundation (see story page 4). A new Center for Undergraduate Education, with student services housed in the Wilbur Cross Building, is also planned.

A former associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate vice provost, Steele has been on the faculty at the University of Arizona since 1976. She was promoted to associate professor in 1979 and full professor in 1984.

She served on numerous committees at the University of Arizona, including serving as chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the Administrative Computing Advisory Committee and the Instructional Facilities Task Force.

She earned a Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of California at San Diego in 1973. She received her B.A. in English and history with High Honors from Whittier College in Whittier, Calif., in 1967.

Steele is a linguistics expert who was co-investigator on an National Endowment for the Humanities grant to support the development of a curriculum in Native American languages at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College in 1995.

She has published several books, including Agreement and Anti-Agreement: A Syntax of Luiseno, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory Book Series (Kluwer, 1990). Among her numerous articles, she has written "It's Raining" for the book American Indian Languages (University of California Press, in press), and "Clisis," in An International Handbook of Contemporary Research (1996).

Pending appropriate approval, she will become a tenured professor in UConn's linguistics department.

Steele's husband, linguist Richard Oehrle, and their 12-year-old son will join her after the end of the school year. Their 20-year-old daughter, a junior at the University of Arizona, will remain in Tucson.

Renu Sehgal-Aldrich