From Princeton Prof to Duke Dean

McLendon: seeking  good chemistry with faculty

McLendon: seeking 
good chemistry with faculty. Photo: Jim Wallace






George L. McLendon, Russell Wellman Moore Professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department at Princeton University, is the new dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences, effective July 1. He will succeed William H. Chafe, a historian who has served as dean since 1995. Chafe announced last March that he would leave his administrative post to return full time to teaching and research.

Duke is unusual in having its arts and sciences core bound so tightly to the rest of the university, McLendon says. "Arts & Sciences is in remarkable proximity to several truly great professional schools, and there are opportunities to build new bridges to enrich undergraduate and graduate studies," he says. Such opportunities might include genomics, chemical biology, or quantitative biology, or new ties between social-science departments and the Fuqua School of Business.

Similarly, McLendon welcomes collaborations with the Pratt School of Engineering. "It is not merely that Arts & Sciences can provide an education to engineering students; the reverse is also true. We want students to think about the issues raised by technology before they are in the middle of them."

McLendon earned his bachelor of science degree magna cum laude from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1972. After receiving his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1976, he joined the faculty at the University of Rochester. He left for Princeton in 1995 and became chair of the chemistry department the following year.

In recent years, McLendon's research has focused on the interaction of large biological molecules, electron transfer in chemical and biological systems, and protein chemistry in processes such as the "programmed cell death" process that affects both normal development and a range of diseases.

In addition to his research and teaching, McLendon has served at Princeton on two key university committees, one that recommends academic and financial priorities to the school's president and provost and another that reviews faculty tenure appointments and recruitments across all disciplines. He also has been a leader in promoting interdisciplinary efforts in numerous fields, including materials research, photonics, and environmental studies, which are priority areas in Duke's long-range academic plan. He is the founder of Apop, a biotechnology company that focuses on cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.

A self-described "fanatic collector" of historic Native-American art from the Southwest, he comes from a family whose Texas roots extend eight generations. His wife, Terry, is a physician, and their two daughters are both pursuing careers as teachers. McLendon also claims ancestors who lived in North Carolina a century before the American Revolution. "It's a full circle now for the McLendons, coming back to North Carolina."

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