On September 1, 2022, Arts & Science’s own Wendy Suzuki will begin her tenure as Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts & Science (CAS).
A member of the Arts & Science faculty since 1998, Wendy is Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science (CNS). She teaches popular CAS classes including “Can Exercise Change Your Brain?” and is the recipient of an NYU Golden Dozen teaching award. She is an internationally renowned expert in mental health and brain plasticity: the ability of the brain to modify its connections in response to the environment. Her current research focuses on the effects of physical activity on the human brain, and its potential to improve learning, memory and higher cognitive abilities.
In addition to her extensive academic writing and speaking, Wendy is devoted to the public dissemination of science. She brings practical, science-based strategies for emotional health to general audiences through her bestselling books Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion, and Healthy Brain, Happy Life, and through storytelling for the Moth and other venues. Her TED talk on the brain-changing benefits of exercise has been viewed over 55 million times.
“I felt sure that we could find a truly exceptional CAS dean among the immense talent pool within Arts & Science,” said Antonio Merlo, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “The search committee was convened last fall, and spent significant time engaging with constituents across our community to identify and interview a very strong slate of candidates. I could not be more pleased with the result of their work. I look forward to Wendy’s partnership in taking the CAS student experience to even greater heights.”
“This is a new challenge I am truly excited to tackle,” said Wendy, who brings a unique perspective to the role. As a woman in a male-dominated discipline, she credits her own mentors with showing her the power of diversity, equity and inclusion: “My experience has given me a deep appreciation of the power, symbolism and reality-changing impact wielded by those in leadership positions. As a third-generation Asian-American woman of color, I welcome that responsibility with open arms.”
Wendy’s deep interest in the undergraduate experience and decades of neural science research convene in a vision for the deanship that is decidedly student-focused. Addressing the core CAS mission of teaching and learning, she will look to effective learning, studying and course management strategies for CAS students – who arrive from a wide range of educational and cultural backgrounds – with a goal of helping them feel more in control of their studies.
The emotional health of CAS students will be a major priority. She looks forward to sharing information about the normal anxiety that is part of the college experience, and implementing programs and interventions to meet CAS students’ unique needs.
Wendy also plans to build the sense of belonging and connection across the CAS community through various opportunities for interaction among students and faculty. She said, “I hope to meet and personally connect with students at multiple points along their NYU journey, so that our final handshake at graduation will not be the first, but a familiar one filled with personal memories of the College and all the strong connections they made with faculty and students alike.”
Matthew Santirocco stepped in as Interim Dean of CAS last fall, and will continue to lead until Wendy’s tenure commences. In 2011, he completed a much-admired 17-year term as Dean of CAS, and has brought that invaluable experience to the role through a challenging year. “My goal has been to continue CAS’s forward momentum, ensuring that the permanent dean would be well-positioned to enact decisions. Wendy’s appointment is fantastic news for CAS and the entire NYU community. She brings a broad and very timely set of skills and experiences to the role, and on behalf of our students, I look forward to her tenure with great confidence and anticipation.”