Dr. John Z. Kiss has only been on UNCG’s campus for a few months, but it’s clear that the new dean of the College of Arts & Sciences has hit the ground running.

Headshot of Dean Kiss

Dean Kiss

From his support of the newly launched UNCG Humanities Network and Consortium (HNAC) to creating a new awards program that recognizes efforts in diversity and inclusiveness, Kiss is focused on raising the profile of the college not only in the Southeast, but across the nation.

“I want the College of Arts & Sciences at UNCG to be recognized regionally and nationally as a place where students come to obtain a modern liberal arts and sciences education that prepares them for lifelong learning,” said Kiss, who also serves as professor in the Department of Biology. “I think that diversity, inclusiveness, student engagement and internationalization – as well as modern interdisciplinary approaches – are all important parts of working toward this goal.”

Kiss officially took office in July after serving as dean of the Graduate School at The University of Mississippi for four years. From 1993 to 2012, Kiss was on the faculty of Miami University, where he was recognized as a University Distinguished Professor and served as chair of the Department of Botany.

His research focuses on the gravitational and space biology of plants. Kiss has published 104 peer-reviewed papers and has had seven spaceflight experiments on space shuttles and the International Space Station. In 2014, he received the NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal for “exceptional contributions in spaceflight research in the fundamental biology of plants in support of NASA’s exploration mission.” He currently serves as the principal investigator on a new project that is to be performed on the International Space Station in 2017.

Kiss was drawn to UNCG because of the value it places on both teaching and research.

“I strongly support the teacher-scholar model,” he said. “I believe that faculty who are actively engaged in research bring new ideas into the classroom and excitement to our students.”

Looking ahead, Kiss is focused on increasing student engagement, promoting diversity among faculty, staff and students, and supporting faculty research.

“Our faculty are making significant community outreach efforts, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and conducting impactful research,” he said. “It’s an exciting time.”

To learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences, visit aas.uncg.edu.


Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications