Rice Names Matthews Dean Of Natural Sciences

May 04, 1998

HOUSTON, Texas, May 4, 1998 -- Rice University biochemistry professor Kathleen S. Matthews has been named dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences effective July 1, 1998, Rice President Malcolm Gillis and Provost David Auston announced today.

Matthews, who joined the Rice faculty in 1972 as an assistant professor of biochemistry, holds the Stewart Memorial Professor of Biochemistry chair. She is associate editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996.

Matthews succeeds James L. Kinsey, who completed a 10-year term as dean of the Wiess School. Kinsey will continue to teach and conduct research at Rice as the D.R. Bullard-Welch Foundation Professor of Science in the chemistry department.

"Professor Matthews is one of those rare individuals who has developed her gifts to the fullest in everything she has attempted," Gillis said. "Not only is she a renowned scholar, but she is also a celebrated teacher of undergraduates, superb mentor of undergraduates.

"On top of all that, she has been able to hone her organizational and administrative skills to a very fine point. Few academicians possess all these attributes; fewer still have cultivated them as well as Professor Matthews. She is the perfect person to build upon Jim Kinsey's decade of enhancements in Natural Sciences."

Matthews received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and her Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. Her major research interests include the chemistry and molecular biology of DNA-binding proteins, studies on repressor proteins from Escherichia coli, including chemical modification, spectroscopy, and studies on immune function and metabolism.

"I am extremely pleased that Kathy has accepted our offer to be the next dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences," Auston said. "She brings a unique blend of experience, energy, enthusiasm, leadership and vision to this responsibility. She is a most worthy successor to Jim Kinsey. The search committee and its chair, Fred Rudolph, deserve to be congratulated for conducting an outstanding search."

Matthews has earned numerous teaching awards and has served on a number of academic and professional panels and committees, including a review panel for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Resources Program for Medical Schools, and the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee. Matthews served as chair of the biochemistry and cell biology department for eight years, during a period of expansion. Last year, she chaired the Steering Committee in developing a Strategic Plan for the Wiess School of Natural Sciences.

"There's no question in my mind that Kathy was far and away the best choice for this position, although there were some extremely outstanding outside candidates," Kinsey said. "Kathy is someone with whom I've worked very closely during my time here and I've always been impressed with her ability, wisdom, tact and effectiveness. I think she's perfectly suited for the job. She is one of our very best teachers, she's one of our most productive and original researchers, she runs a sizable research program, and she's an editor of a major journal in her field. On top of that she has had a lot of hands-on experience with being an administrator at Rice."

The selection of Matthews to succeed Kinsey came after an extensive search by a committee chaired by Rudolph, professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice.

"We had a good number of outside applicants," Rudolph said, "and four people who we all felt very good about were recommended to the president and the provost. Kathy has extremely good administrative skills, she cares deeply about the university, and quality is always first and foremost, which is where we need to be now. She has the presence to deal with the outside world, and will provide strong leadership."
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