Inside USD

New Dean Mary Boyd is Ready to get to Work

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mary Boyd is back where she says she belongs, and the weather’s better here, too. 

The University of San Diego’s new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences arrived just two months ago and has hit the ground running. As an award winning chemistry professor at Loyola University in Chicago and later, department chair at Georgia Southern University, she is thrilled with the opportunity to become dean at a university whose values and priorities mirror her own.  

“I learned of the opening [of dean] at USD and decided to apply because I realized it was important for me to return to a liberal arts, Roman Catholic institution,” Boyd said. “USD appealed to me because it’s an institution that values teaching and research, encourages students to think critically and act globally, and supports the journey of faith and spirituality of all people.” 

Boyd, a native of Canada, received her B.Sc. in chemistry and Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Toronto and comes to USD with solid credentials as both a respected professor and researcher.

Everything I did as a professor and department chair was focused on students and faculty — enhancing the student’s academic experience, supporting expanded research opportunities for faculty, and building relationships with individuals across campus” she says. “Even when I was teaching very large classes in organic chemistry, which might have 100 or more students, I treated each student as an individual by learning each student’s name, understanding their career aspirations as well as their fears and anxieties about taking organic chemistry. I enjoyed being with them through that journey as they learned organic chemistry and discovered that it is exciting and fun.” 

While teaching and research are Boyd’s passions, she found time to direct doctoral dissertations, mentor numerous undergraduate research students, and serve on many committees in the university and the organic chemistry community. Boyd now serves on two committees of the American Chemical Society: the Committee on Minority Affairs and the Executive Committee of the Division of Organic Chemistry. In addition, Boyd has been a principal investigator for numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and is co-editing a book scheduled for release this fall entitled Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research: Fostering Excellence and Enhancing the Impact. 

While Boyd’s academic and research background is in organic chemistry, she is just as comfortable and supportive of broadening and exploring the arts and humanities. “I considered a career in music,” Boyd says. “As a faculty member at Loyola Chicago, I took several courses in studio fine arts because I wanted to explore the visual arts. In expanding beyond my comfort zone, it helped me to be a better teacher.” As dean, she plans to devote wall space in her Founders Hall office as a revolving display of artwork from USD students and faculty in the department of Fine Arts. 

Another area Boyd takes considerable pride in is students’ exposure to diversity education. “I am very excited about the program in Ethnic Studies and the president’s strategic initiative on diversity and inclusion,” she says. “It is certainly aligned with my own long-standing interests and professional activities in broadening participation.” 

Boyd’s own international roots help her understand the importance of students taking advantage of the many study abroad programs that USD offers. She notes, “The chance for students to be engaged with and learn from individuals of other cultures by studying and traveling internationally is a wonderful and immeasurable experience because it provides them with a global perspective, curious about the world around them.”  

As excited as Boyd is to be in San Diego and a part of the USD family, no one is more thrilled than her children: 10-year-old daughter Maura and 8-year-old son Patrick. Boyd and her husband John have already taken the kids to Sea World, the Zoo and Legoland. She says, “I love San Diego and I love being at USD.  Everyone has been so welcoming and gracious. I am excited to be here and looking forward to embracing the many opportunities ahead of me.” 

For more information about USD’s College of Arts and Sciences, go to www.sandiego.edu/as/

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