Melson to step down after 15 years as dean of Wake Forest Graduate School

By Kevin Cox
April 6, 2006

Gordon A. Melson, who has led the development of several new graduate programs in the biomedical sciences and other areas, will step down June 30 after 15 years as dean of the university's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Gordon A. Melson

Melson joined Wake Forest as dean and professor of chemistry in 1991. He came to Wake Forest after holding faculty positions in chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, Michigan State University and elsewhere.

As dean of the Graduate School, Melson is responsible for graduate programs on the university's Reynolda and Bowman Gray campuses. On the Reynolda Campus, the Graduate School offers doctoral programs in biology, chemistry and physics, as well as master's degree programs in a range of disciplines. On the Bowman Gray Campus, the Graduate School offers doctoral and master's degree programs in the biomedical sciences.

"Dean Melson has brought tremendous energy and creativity to his leadership role at Wake Forest, and is responsible for the creation and development of several significant graduate programs," Wake Forest Provost William C. Gordon said. "He has collaborated closely and easily with faculty and administrators throughout the university, serving as an important bridge between our two campuses and as a highly effective advocate for graduate education."

The growing success of the Graduate School is apparent, in part, by the increasing number of students enrolled and earning degrees, Gordon said.

In Melson's first year at Wake Forest, 19 doctorates and 96 master's degrees were awarded. Last spring, 48 doctorates and 186 master's degrees were awarded. The number of degree-seeking students on the Bowman Gray Campus has risen from 113 to 290 from 1991-92 to 2005-06, while the number on the Reynolda Campus has risen from 351 to 413 during that time.

During Melson's tenure, new graduate programs created include those in molecular genetics, biomedical engineering, cancer biology, health sciences research, accountancy, and molecular medicine. In recent years, the university also has launched the joint Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, introduced a new Ph.D./MBA program, and reinstated an M.D./Ph.D. degree program.

Since his arrival, Melson said, one of his primary goals has been to boost awareness of the Graduate School among those in the higher education community nationally, as well as the general population locally and beyond.

Another major goal, Melson said, has been to sharply increase partnerships and collaboration between the Graduate School and the rest of the university, particularly in the area of the sciences. Today, he said, it is becoming increasingly common for faculty on both campuses to be working together on research projects and various academic activities.

"I'm also pleased to see our Graduate School students embracing programs that cross departmental, school and campus lines," Melson said. "In today's world, people in the workplace need to be able to work comfortably and effectively with those involved in other fields, other specialties."

A national search to identify a replacement for Melson will commence late this summer, according to Provost Gordon and William Applegate, dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president for Wake Forest University Health Sciences. An interim dean will be appointed to serve in this capacity until a permanent replacement can be made.