Dr. H. Joseph Newton addresses the crowd assembled to honor him and wish him well as he prepares to step down after 15 years as Dean of Science at Texas A&M University. (Credit: Michael Kellett Photography.)


Hundreds of faculty and staff from the Texas A&M University College of Science recently joined campus colleagues, former students and friends from across the community, state and nation to celebrate Dean of Science H. Joseph Newton in a September 16 reception held at the University Club to commemorate his 15-year tenure as the college's top administrator and official face of Texas A&M Science.

Newton, a professor of statistics who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1978, has served as dean of science since July 2002. Prior to that, he had served since October 1, 2000, as interim dean of science, preceded by two years as executive associate dean and eight years as head of the Department of Statistics.

Texas A&M quantum physicist and Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering Director Marlan O. Scully served as master of ceremonies for a brief program that featured remarks from the heads of each of the college's five departments (Thomas D. McKnight, Biology; Dr. François P. Gabbaï, Chemistry; Emile A. Straube, Mathematics; George R. Welch, Physics and Astronomy; and Simon J. Sheather, former head of Statistics) as well as Cyclotron Institute Director Sherry J. Yennello.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Development Timothy P. Scott also spoke as a representative of the Dean's Office staff, defining Newton as a classic and then presenting him with one -- a first-edition copy of William Faulkner's Absalom Absalom!, his favorite book written by his favorite author. Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Faculty Affairs Mark Zoran concluded the program by reading a letter from Newton's brother, Jim Newton, that was written specifically for the occasion.

On October 1, Newton will be succeeded by Meigan C. Aronson, a professor of physics and astronomy at Stony Brook University in New York and a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory. When he steps down later this week, Newton will have completed a remarkable quarter-century of continuous administrative service to either the College of Science or the Department of Statistics.

"Under his leadership, the College of Science has had unprecedented growth and success, including new academic programs, new facilities, outstanding faculty hires, and enhanced math and science teacher preparation for the state and nation," said Texas A&M Provost and Executive Vice President Karan L. Watson. "His commitment to the faculty, staff and students of the college as well as to Texas A&M University has been exceptional."

During his 15-year tenure as dean, Newton shepherded unprecedented college-wide growth and achievement -- most notably in development and external relations, research funding, and faculty hiring -- while spearheading the creation of various institutes and centers, enthusiastically encouraging and supporting interdisciplinary programs and other cutting-edge pursuits, and leading Texas A&M's early efforts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), K-12 educational outreach and diversity programs.

"I've learned everything I know about academic administration from Joe Newton," said Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy's George Welch. "Joe has been an enabling force for almost everything good that's come to our department. He worked tirelessly with [former department head] Ed Fry to enable the Mitchell philanthropy that made the new buildings possible. He was the definition of optimism and success during reinvestment. And he's helped all the research institutes that have attracted so many of our faculty.

"I don't think there has ever been an administrator so willing to go out on a limb, so willing to take chances, so willing to work hard to improve departments, the college and the overall university."

As Dean of Science, Newton secured more than $200 million from private and industry sources to support myriad programs, from new buildings and an endowed institute for physics and astronomy to increased numbers of endowed faculty positions, graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships. He championed the hiring of roughly 100 new faculty during Texas A&M's six-year faculty reinvestment program and enabled the college to expand its research funding from $28.2 million in 2002 to $41.5 million in 2014.

"With Joe's help, the Department of Biology hired 17 faculty members in four years as part of President Gates' faculty reinvestment program, said Texas A&M Biology's Tom McKnight. "The truly amazing feat that Joe pulled off was coming up with not only 17 salaries, but also 17 start-up packages, plus millions of dollars for laboratory renovations in our buildings. In my book, creating this much abundance where there was none before ranks right up there the miracle that Jesus did with the loaves and fishes. But he did it. Our department was totally transformed under Joe's leadership, and we are now on a positive trajectory that will outlive us both."

For his part, Newton thanked the many people responsible for bringing him to Texas A&M and then helping him succeed, both as a faculty member and an administrator. In addition, he revisited his original vision statement from 2001 while serving as interim dean and vying to be the college's ninth overall dean.

"I said I would try to build concensus while keeping the Department of Chemistry strong and working to build up the other departments," Newton said. "I think together we succeeded in delivering on my promises."

Newton previously was celebrated July 23 at a campus-wide appreciation reception for outgoing and interim deans hosted by Watson. In addition, he was honored August 10 in Seattle with the Department of Statistics' 2015 12th Man Award recognizing a faculty member for long-term contributions to the department. The annual award is the final one unveiled at the department's Aggie Reunion, held every year in conjunction with the American Statistical Association Joint Statistical Meetings.

In Seattle, Department Head and Master of Ceremonies Valen E. Johnson presented Newton with his personalized 12th Man jersey and treated him to a customized slideshow highlighting his career achievements as dean, former department head and professor of statistics. In the true spirit of 12th Man tradition, Johnson said he hopes to have Newton back in the department on a regular basis soon.

"We didn't always agree, but we did always discuss," said the Cyclotron's Sherry Yennello. "And that trait of surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you is one of the best leadership lessons I learned from you."

Thanks and gig 'em, Dean Newton.

See additional photographs from the reception and enjoy this bonus video clip from the September 23 Dean's Office lunch at Christopher's World Grille:


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Outgoing Texas A&M Dean of Science Joe Newton was congratulated by many, including the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering's Marlan O. Scully (above) and Texas A&M Foundation President Ed Davis '67 (below), who also plans to step down in January after his own lengthy career as one of the university's top fundraisers. (Credit: Michael Kellett Photography.)

  • (Credit: Michael Kellett Photography.)

  • Newton, taking in program remarks as a member of the reception crowd. (Credit: Michael Kellett Photography.)

  • Although Newton says he has "absolutely loved" being dean, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, including (from left) daughter Karah, wife Linda '86 and son Joseph '18. (Credit: Michael Kellett Photography.)

  • Newton, accepting his 12th Man Award and personalized jersey from Texas A&M Statistics Department Head Valen E. Johnson in Seattle. (Credit: Elaine James, Texas A&M Statistics.)

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