Graduate School welcomes new dean

David Eaton was recently appointed as the new dean of the UW Graduate School.

Photo by Joshua Bessex

The UW Graduate School is seeing a change in leadership with the appointment of David Eaton as the new dean.

Eaton has held a variety of positions during his 34 years at the UW. Most recently, he was the associate vice provost for research and a professor in the department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

“Dave brings three vantage points,” said Gerald Baldasty, vice provost and current dean of the Graduate School, referring to Eaton’s health sciences expertise, research experience, and the leadership positions he’s held at the UW. 

David Kalman, chair of the Environment and Occupational Health Sciences department and Eaton’s long-term colleague, said he believes Eaton will be a good fit for the deanship.

“He is a great guy, and very approachable,” Kalman said. “I think students will find him very open.”

Kalman also said Eaton’s experience helped him stand out from the other professors applying for the position.

“The professor is the quarterback,” Kalman said. “Over and above that, Dave has been a leader in a lot of ways.”

This leadership experience was evident when Eaton led an outreach program at middle and high schools to raise environmental health awareness, helping design a video game in which students could skate through terrain susceptible to health concerns such as old buildings, abandoned lots near waste lots, and the like.

The position of dean of the UW’s Graduate School brings the customary challenges to a leadership position at the UW, according to Baldasty. Support of interdisciplinary programs, increasing training programs for graduate students, and offering more professional and master’s programs are just a few of the issues listed.

“There are a lot of good students out here who should be going to grad school here,” Baldasty said.

As a large public institution, external funding is also a challenge.

“There are a lot of uncertainties and threats to traditional universities,” Eaton said. “I think the grad school is in good shape, and there are exciting opportunities to embrace tech to enhance graduate education. … We will be looking at the job market to plan for the best and brightest grad students.”

Eaton said he wants to increase financial aid for graduate students as well, so that tuition and living costs would not be such a pressing concern. 

“I am excited to learn more about other areas in arts and humanities,” Eaton said. “I come from a health sciences background, so I look forward to learning more.”

Baldasty said such connections with faculty in different academic areas will be one way he will support Eaton’s transition into the role.

“I have really high regard for him,” Baldasty said.

Reach reporter Garrett Black at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @GarretJBlack

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