Madeline Vargas Appointed Dean of the Faculty

Madeline Vargas

The professor of biology brings a wealth of experience to her new role

Madeline Vargas, professor in the Department of Biology, has been appointed dean of the faculty effective June 1, 2021.

She joins fellow Dean of the Faculty Ann Marie Leshkowich, professor of anthropology, and succeeds Mary Ebbott, professor of classics, who served in the role since 2017. Vargas joined Holy Cross in 1995, received tenure in 2001 and was promoted to the rank of professor in 2015.

"This past year has been challenging for our Holy Cross community. In a short span of time, faculty had to extensively revise their teaching to remote learning, make difficult choices about their scholarship plans and increase service to the College to meet these unprecedented challenges," she says. "I'm proud of the resilience exhibited by all facets of our community. I look forward to serving the College in my new role and assisting faculty in their endeavors to better support our students."

Vargas' research in microbiology focuses on the physiology and ecology of microorganisms, specifically the biochemical mechanisms that enable bacteria to respire with iron and produce electricity, as well as bacteria that thrive in extreme habitats. Her work has been published in high-impact journals Lancet, Nature and Nature Nanotechnoloogy. She received the Arthur J. O'Leary Faculty Recognition Award in 2016.

Vargas teaches the microbiology curriculum within the biology department and has directed more than 50 students in summer research, independent research or Honors theses. She has collaborated with Holy Cross colleagues on inclusive and interdisciplinary teaching, and has presented the results of this shared work at such venues as the American Association of Colleges and Universities and the Center for Inclusive Teaching at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao campus, and in the journal College Teaching.

Over her Holy Cross career, Vargas has served as a member of the Strategic Planning Working Group on the Liberal Arts and a faculty representative to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the board of trustees. She served on the Common Requirements Steering Committee from 2018–2020, and also chaired the Committee on Faculty Scholarship and the Committee on Nominations and Elections. Beyond Holy Cross, she serves, and is a member of, the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition.

Written for the Summer 2021 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

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