Susan James, a professor of Mechanical Engineering who joined Colorado State University’s faculty in 1994, has been named the next vice provost for faculty affairs. James will take over for Dan Bush, who recently announced his intention to retire after nearly two decades at CSU. James’ appointment began on July 6 to allow her to work with Bush for a transition period in the Office of the Provost.
As vice provost for faculty affairs, James will be responsible for working with faculty, deans, other vice provosts, and vice presidents to ensure a well-supported faculty and exemplary teaching and learning practices at CSU.
“I am excited to step into this role and help guide CSU forward,” James said. “Teaching, research and engagement are paramount to helping CSU fulfill its mission. In my years here, I have seen the tremendous capabilities of my colleagues to change the world and I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
James joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty at CSU as an assistant professor in 1994. She served as head of the department from 2010-2018 and is also the founding director of the School of Biomedical Engineering. Committed to giving back to her community, James has been involved with many service organizations over the years including Africa Higher Education Partnerships, Women and Minorities in Engineering Program, and the Society of Women Engineers.
“We welcome Sue to the Office of the Provost and look forward to her leadership and experience,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda. “Through the many years we’ve worked together, Sue has always impressed with her ability to clearly identify areas we need to change and her ability to solve problems. She will be a tremendous help to Mary [Pedersen] as she gets started here at CSU.”
Mary Pedersen, incoming Provost and Executive Vice President, said she looks forward to collaborating with James as they both step into their new roles.
“I was so fortunate to meet Sue early on and I’ve been impressed by not just her leadership, but her vast knowledge of Colorado State and its mission,” said Pedersen. “The role of faculty is not just critical, but unique at every institution, and at Colorado State, as a top public research institution, faculty have a massive role in how the missions of teaching, research, and service are carried out. I know Sue’s experience and ability to identify new solutions to complex challenges will help CSU as we continue our COVID recovery and beyond.”
James’ predecessor as vice provost, Dan Bush, came to CSU in 2003 as chair of the Biology Department. He played significant roles in several multidisciplinary, intercollegiate initiatives, including spearheading the creation of the Program in Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology. Bush stepped into the vice provost for faculty affairs role in 2012 and in that most recent role has been instrumental in ensuring that young faculty get thoughtful feedback annually about their progress toward promotion and tenure, and in developing workshops focused on training department chairs to be effective leaders and administrators.
Together with Provost Miranda and President Joyce McConnell, Bush recently created career pathways for CSU’s non-tenure track faculty that recognize their critical contributions to the teaching, research and service mission of the university.
“I very much appreciate the contributions and support from Dan through the years. He has been instrumental in pushing CSU forward on a number of critical areas including salary equity, helping to establish the Council of Chairs, and his development of the chair training program and the new faculty orientation programs,” Miranda said. “His oversight of The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) and their focus on faculty professional development, his championing of the STEM Ed Center all helped CSU transform classroom learning and improve academic support. And his work to implement all the manual changes made by Faculty Council over the past years has been extensive.”
James said her priorities as vice provost will be: hiring, promoting and retaining exceptional faculty with a particular emphasis on minoritized faculty; shared governance; and nurturing a culture that allows faculty to thrive and significantly impact the world with their teaching, scholarship and creative works.
James’ own research focuses on polymeric materials used in biomedical engineering. These have orthopedic and cardiovascular applications as well as uses in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. She and her students invented the BioPoly® materials, now in clinical use in partial resurfacing knee implants. James received her Ph.D. in Polymers from MIT and her B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from Carnegie Mellon, with a minor in Biomedical Engineering and a certificate in Women’s Studies.