Winebrake seeks to enhance ‘comprehensive’ focus as dean of College of Liberal Arts

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A. Sue Weisler

As the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts, James Winebrake plans to lead the college in developing new programs, creating partnerships and performing research.

The College of Liberal Arts at RIT has always held a unique position on campus. It provides instruction in the social sciences, arts and humanities to augment the strong technical education many students receive, while also developing a portfolio of degree programs and research initiatives designed to create new avenues for addressing technology and innovation in society.

“The College of Liberals Arts features close to 20 graduate and undergraduate degree programs, 40 minor and concentration options and, through its general-education courses, provides top-level instruction to nearly all of RIT’s 17,000 students,” notes James Winebrake, who was appointed dean Jan. 3.

“In my new position, I’m looking forward to working with our students, faculty and staff to continue to promote a strong, comprehensive liberal-arts education at RIT.”

These efforts include the development of cutting-edge initiatives such as a master’s degree in engineering psychology and putting new spins on traditional majors such as the bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a focus on technology and innovation ethics.

Winebrake was chosen for the post following an open search that included input from students, faculty and staff, which led to the selection of four finalists.

“James Winebrake is an accomplished scholar and teacher and has been an integral part of RIT’s research and educational mission for close to a decade,” notes Jeremy Haefner, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “I am proud to name him as the new dean of liberal arts and look forward to working with him to promote the further development of the college and RIT as a whole.”

For the past eight years, Winebrake has served as chair of RIT’s Department of Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy, where he led efforts to develop and expand curricular offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level.  

He has earned international recognition for his research on issues related to the environmental impacts of goods movement, the effectiveness of transportation subsidies and public polices related to alternative energy development. He is currently a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on the Study of Potential Energy Savings and Greenhouse Gas Reductions from Transportation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Transportation Energy Futures Steering Committee.

As dean, Winebrake will be working to sustain and develop new programs, build relationships with internal and external partners, and lead the college through its semester conversion activities. Winebrake also wants to foster an environment that strongly supports the research conducted by faculty and students in the college.

“Numerous faculty and scholars within the college are making major advancements in a host of areas from crime analysis to human/computer interaction to the study of deaf cinema and early music,” Winebrake says. “At the same time, we are working with our colleagues throughout RIT to create innovative, multidisciplinary programs that will further enhance the educational and scholarship offerings our students receive. This really is a great time to be in the liberal arts and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead RIT’s efforts in this area.”