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Lauren Nolfo-Clements announced as new dean of STEM


A woman standing on a patio with crossed arms.
Courtesy of Suffolk University

By Kaitlin Carman

News Editor

 

Lauren Nolfo-Clements was appointed as the new dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), according to a Feb. 29 email from Dr. Kristen Porter-Utley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, to FSU faculty and staff.


Her appointment will begin July 15, 2024.

 

She is currently serving as the associate dean of administration, operations, & planning in the College of Arts and Sciences at Suffolk University.


Nolfo-Clements received a B.S. in biology from the College of New Jersey and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Tulane University in Louisiana. Afterwards, she was a wildlife scientist for the Humane Society of the United States.

 

Before obtaining her current position at Suffolk, she was a full professor who earned tenure and chaired the biology department for seven years, according to Nolfo-Clements.


Additionally, Porter-Utley said she is an “ecologist who has been working to catalog and study mammal populations in collaboration with high school and university students and others in the Boston Harbor Islands for about 15 years.”


Some of her accomplishments include “spearheading the infusion of National Association of College and Employers (NACE) competencies throughout the undergraduate experience at her university so students can use their personalized record of competencies to enhance their coursework,” said Porter-Utley.


Dean of Student Success and Persistence LaDonna Bridges said the search was extensive.


Bridges and Chemistry Professor Shelli Waetzig served as co-chairs of the search committee since it convened late September.

 

They were joined by Richard Beckwitt, biology professor; Michael Krul, chair of mathematics; Irene Porro, director of the McAuliffe Center; Mille Gonzales, dean of the library; and Jenny Melara, senior student in STEM. 

 

Although she was unable to disclose the number of applicants, she said it consisted of “a robust candidate pool from across the country.”


Bridges described leading and participating in such a search as a tremendous responsibility that requires serious commitment and dedication from the volunteers due to its intensive nature.

 

She said, “Each member committed to weekly meetings throughout the fall semester and into the spring semester. Some of these meetings were much longer than one hour in length. 


“It is voluntary but also an honor to be asked to participate in a search of this level,” she added.


According to Bridges, it was important the committee included a STEM student to be part of the process, and they took recommendations from STEM faculty which resulted in Melara being appointed to the search committee.


“We were beyond thrilled to have Jenny Melara participate. Her voice was extremely important in all of our meetings. We were confident she helped us view candidates from a student perspective,” said Bridges.

 

Nolfo-Clements said there were multiple reasons why she wanted to become a member of the FSU community.

 

“One, it is a school of STEM, which, right now, I am in the College of Arts and Sciences -  I really wanted to return to a more STEM-focused position. I really enjoy working in STEM in general,” she said.

 

Nolfo-Clements said she appreciates the “educational format of STEM. … I like that it is skills-based and it gives students opportunities to get into specific types of jobs. It is something I am really passionate about.”

 

Additionally, she added the thought of working for a regional university instead of a private one, like Suffolk, was appealing.

 

Nolfo-Clements said, “I really like schools that are focused on giving local students opportunity … lots of first-generation college students - people that might otherwise have not gone to college at that regional university did not exist.

 

“I am really into the access and opportunity mission of regional schools,” said Nolfo-Clements.

 

She said she has many goals she would like to accomplish during her career at FSU.


Nolfo-Clements said, “A major goal is linking education more to … industry, state, and federal partners to get an idea of what they [employers] want to see [in] the next generation of the  workforce. 


“Working with them to help shape the student experience so when students [graduate], not only do they have those variety of skills, both hard and soft, but that they know how to professionally present themselves and navigate in this workplace experience,” she added.


Margaret Carroll, the current dean of STEM, will soon be rotating off her position and returning to the faculty, according to Bridges.

 

“Dean Carroll was among the inaugural academic deans at FSU, all of whom came from the faculty. There was originally a limit on the number of years these first deans would serve, but the pandemic and other issues led to extending the service of the original deans,” said Bridges.

 

Bridges added, “We are celebrating a successful search and looking forward to working with and learning from Dr. No.”

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