College of the Environment Dean Lisa J. Graumlich
College of the Environment Dean and Mary Laird Wood Professor Lisa J. Graumlich

Dean Lisa J. Graumlich will step down as dean of the College of the Environment at the end of this academic year, June 30, 2021. 

As the inaugural dean of the College of the Environment, Graumlich merged two colleges and academic departments from a third college, and established a cohesive unit focused on our planet and solar system. Over the last 10 years, she has worked to build the common culture, shared aspirations and collaborative spirit alive in the college today.

“The formation of the College of the Environment was a bold move on the part of UW and as an alum, I was thrilled to take on the task of making it a success,” says Graumlich. “The most rewarding moments over the past decade have come from working together with talented leaders across the College to build its outstanding capacity and reputation for authentic, meaningful collaboration. Today, we see the powerful impact of the work that our students, faculty and staff have on the health of the environment and our communities. It’s been both gratifying and humbling to help create such an outstanding institution.”

Graumlich came to the UW with a reputation for building partnerships across disciplines while also connecting with decision- and policy-makers, and it remains a hallmark of her deanship.  She reached out to deans across UW campuses to create EarthLab, which bridges the academic world and the public, private and nonprofit sectors to identify the places where life on Earth is at greatest risk and co-create solutions, converting knowledge to action. Her work also includes the creation of a science communication program; notable investments in diversity, equity and inclusion; and environmental justice initiatives.

Simultaneously, Graumlich positioned the UW for leadership in emerging interdisciplinary scholarship that addresses global grand challenges, setting the example for forging partnerships and sharing resources with deans across campus. She partnered with faculty and leadership on a number of initiatives including the Future of Ice (polar regions), Freshwater Initiative (with the College of Engineering) and the Washington State Ocean Acidification Center.

Graumlich has held numerous leadership positions during her time at the UW, including serving on the board of the prestigious American Geophysical Union, and as a member of the boards of the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, The Bullitt Foundation and Forterra. She led the University’s Environmental Stewardship Committee for four years and was chair of the Board of Deans and Chancellors from 2013-2015. 

As a scholar, Graumlich uses tree-ring data to understand long-term trends in climate, focusing on the mountains of western North America. Her career has spanned postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota and positions with the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Arizona; Columbia University; and Montana State University. While on the faculty at Arizona from 1988 to 1999, she served as director of the Institute for Study of the Planet Earth. From 1999 to 2006 at Montana State University, she served as director of its Big Sky Institute.

“I would like to thank Lisa for her leadership as the first dean of the College of the Environment,” said UW Provost Mark Richards. Through her partnerships and work with students, faculty, staff and the community, Lisa has laid excellent groundwork for even more exciting progress in the years ahead. I wish Lisa well in her next chapter.”

After June 30 2021, Graumlich plans to focus her time and energy on community-engaged scholarship examining impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable populations. In the coming months, Richards will launch a search for a new dean for the College of the Environment.