Finalists Announced for ASU Provost/VP Position
October 31, 2014
The finalists are Dr. Donald Topliff, dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering at West Texas A&M University; Dr. James Nelson, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler; and Dr. Stephan Nix, dean of the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
ASU’s provost finalists were announced by search committee co-chairs Dr. Javier Flores, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, and Dr. Heather J. Braden, associate professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and president of the ASU Faculty Senate.
Dates of their campus visits will be Nov. 12 for Topliff, Nov. 13 for Nelson and Nov. 14 for Nix. During their visits, the candidates will tour the campus and meet with search committee members and President Brian J. May, as well as students, faculty and staff.
Topliff has extensive administrative experience at West Texas A&M, where he also previously served as associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering, head of the Department of Agricultural Sciences and interim head of the Department of Mathematics. In his current position, Topliff oversaw reaccreditation of the mechanical engineering program in 2012 and is supervising the civil engineering program’s current reaccreditation. He also negotiated with Underwriter’s Laboratories to establish a wind turbine testing, development and certification center that is expected to become an international test site for UL certification. He earned an A.A.S. in agriculture at Colby Community College and a B.S. in agriculture from Kansas State University. He also holds a M.S. in animal science and a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from Texas A&M University.
In addition to his current position at UT-Tyler, Nelson has also held administrative posts at Western Michigan University and Clemson University. He implemented the Clemson University graduate engineering programs, the B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering programs at Western Michigan, and most recently the Department of Civil Engineering at UT-Tyler, including the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Prior to entering academia, Nelson was an engineer for companies such as Exxon and Brown & Root. He earned his Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Dayton and his M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Houston.
Prior to his current dean’s post at Texas A&M-Kingsville, Nix also held administrative, teaching and research positions in engineering programs at the University of North Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Alabama and Syracuse University. Before moving into academia, he was an associate scientist for Breedlove Associates in Gainesville, Fla. He is also a certified and registered hydrologist with the American Institute of Hydrology and served as president of that organization from 2013-14. He earned his B.S. in engineering science with honors, as well as his Master of Engineering and Ph.D. in environmental engineering sciences, from the University of Florida.
The provost position came open in the fall in 2012 when May, who had served in the post since 2011, was named ASU president. Dr. Nancy Allen, vice provost for academic affairs, is filling the position until a successor is named.