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Trustee Professor Jim MacMahon Retires from USU Science Dean Post

Thursday, Jul. 03, 2014

Professor Lisa Berreau and Dean Jim MacMahon

Professor Lisa Berreau and Dean Jim MacMahon at USU's 2014 spring commencement ceremony. Berreau succeeds MacMahon as interim dean of USU’s College of Science.

After nearly five consecutive years — and more than 15 years in total — as dean of Utah State University’s College of Science, James “Jim” MacMahon retired from the post, returning to research and entering semi-retirement July 1, 2014.

“It’s been a genuine honor to serve as dean of Science for a university that’s been my academic home for more than 40 years,” says MacMahon, trustee professor in USU’s Department of Biology. “Working with our outstanding students, faculty and staff has been inspiring. The initiative, innovation and drive of our Aggie scientists never ceases to amaze me.”

College of Science Associate Dean Lisa Berreau, professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, succeeds MacMahon as interim dean. A national search for the position will be announced in the coming year.

USU Executive Vice President and Provost Noelle Cockett praises MacMahon for his “calm and steady leadership, wise stewardship and  visionary guidance” at the helm of the college, which is home to some 1,100 undergraduates and nearly 200 graduate students  in disciplines including biology, chemistry, biochemistry, geology, mathematics, statistics and physics.

Under MacMahon’s recent leadership, the college has celebrated numerous accolades, including an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, two Carnegie Professors of the Year, an American Industrial Hygiene Association Fellow, four National Science Foundation Early Faculty CAREER Awards, six NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and six honorable mentions, a Phi Kappa Phi Fellow, a National Physical Science Consortium Fellow, a National Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow, as well as eight Goldwater Scholars and five Goldwater honorable mentions.

The College of Science’s mentorship of pre-professional students ranks among the best in the nation, with medical, dental and graduate school acceptance rates for USU graduates consistently exceeding national averages. The college also supports active public outreach efforts, including the popular Science Unwrapped program.

Widely respected throughout the world for his academic achievements, MacMahon is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. Director of the USU Ecology Center from 2005-2011, he served as the first chair of the board of directors of the National Ecological Observatory Network, known as “NEON.”

MacMahon served as president of the Ecological Society of America from 1997-98, and in 2005, he received the society’s Distinguished Service Citation. In 1994, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Academy of Art, Science and Letters.

In 1987, MacMahon was among the first recipients of the Utah Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Science and Technology. He was awarded the D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award in 1988, USU’s top research honor, and was named USU College of Science Professor of the Year in 1980. In 2002, MacMahon received USU’s Leone Leadership Award, the university’s top leadership honor, for his “endless efforts to organize, motivate, improvise, guide and solve problems.”

Berreau steps into the dean’s post after nearly nine years as associate dean. A professor of inorganic chemistry, Berreau was an NSF CAREER Fellowship recipient and a Herman Frasch Foundation Fellow. In 2006, she was named Undergraduate Research mentor of the Year for the College of Science.

USU’s College of Science includes the academic departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Geology, Mathematics and Statistics and Physics.

Related link:

USU College of Science

Contact: Lisa Berreau, 435-797-2478,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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