Marcia France, the Herwick Professor of Chemistry at Washington and Lee University, is the new associate dean of the College, beginning July 1. She succeeds Alison Bell, who has held that post since 2010 and is returning to the classroom as an associate professor of archaeology.
France, who teaches organic chemistry, arrived at W&L in 1994. She holds an S.B. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in chemistry from Yale University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. She helped develop and serves as co-director of W&L’s partnership with the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, which provides a study-abroad opportunity for W&L students studying science and preparing to enter a health profession. She also has taught the Science of Cooking course in Italy. France is active in the University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, having served in several posts, including president. She will serve a four-year term as associate dean.
“I am really looking forward to serving W&L in this new capacity,” said France. “While I will miss teaching, I will enjoy working with a larger number of students from all the disciplines in the College. I know I will face many challenges, but the job will also provide me with valuable experience. W&L has given me a lot in the time I have been on the faculty, and I hope that I can give back to the University by taking on this role.”
The associate dean of the College focuses on academic performance and support, collaborating when appropriate with the Office of Student Affairs. The associate dean also coordinates fellowship applications.
“Prof. France will bring intelligence, experience and care to her work on behalf of students,” said Hank Dobin, dean of the College.
Alison Bell, a 1991 graduate of Washington and Lee, explores anthropological questions about 18th- and 19th-century communities in Virginia. She and her students work with archaeological remains, vernacular architecture, oral histories and historical documents. In addition to her B.A. from W&L, where she double-majored in English and anthropology/archaeology, she holds an M.A. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Virginia. Bell taught at W&L from 1996 to 1999 as a part-time adjunct, and then returned in 2002. She has partnered with Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s historic home, where W&L students have conducted archaeological excavations.
“We all thank Prof. Bell for her excellent service,” said Dobin. “She has worked tirelessly and compassionately with students in need of assistance. Her approach has been always student-centered. And she has improved our fellowship process as well.”
Later this summer, the Office of the Dean of the College will move into a new permanent home, the Lee-Jackson House. Built in 1842, it has most recently served as the home of the dean of students. Originally, however, it housed the institution’s presidents, including George Junkin and Robert E. Lee. During Junkin’s presidency, his daughter Elinor also lived there with her husband, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the Virginia Military Institute professor and future Confederate general. The Lee family lived there from 1865 to 1869, when they moved into the Lee House, which still serves as the president's residence.
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