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University of Idaho Announces Two Deans

March 17, 2020

MOSCOW, Idaho — March 16, 2020 — Dennis Becker has been named dean of the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources, while Sean Quinlan has been named dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

Both have served in the positions on an interim basis since 2018.

Becker, a natural resource policy professor, earned his doctoral degree from U of I’s College of Natural Resources. He completed a master’s degree at Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University.

Becker returned to U of I in 2015 as an associate professor and the director of the Policy Analysis Group, where he used his experience in policy research to evaluate the impacts of natural resources. He was promoted to professor in 2018. Later that year, he became interim dean following the retirement of Kurt Pregitzer.

“The College of Natural Resources has a rich legacy of teaching, research and outreach spanning more than 100 years,” Becker said. “We’re leaders in our fields of study and care deeply about the future of natural resources. It is a great privilege and humbling to lead this college and to have the opportunity to work with our wonderful faculty and staff to train the next generation of leaders.”

Becker received a Fulbright Fellowship in 2013 and worked for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars with the U.S. Department of State in Norway. He also received the Morse Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Special Advisor Recognition and the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award while working at the University of Minnesota from 2005-15. In 2010, he received the CNR’s Celebrating Natural Resources Alumni Award from U of I.

“I have a deep respect for the University of Idaho that I bring to every decision,” Becker said. “I want the college to excel, but not at the expense of the university. Being an alum keeps me grounded and reminds me of the importance of our broader community. We all succeed when we work together, and it’s my duty to convey that responsibility to those around me.”

Quinlan replaces Andrew Kersten, who left to serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

"It's humbling to serve such an extensive and diverse college community,” Quinlan said. “CLASS constitutes the bedrock of the university experience, and we boast a stunning alumni network and stakeholder base.”

Quinlan said he is committed to student success and excited to continue supporting the research and creative activity that takes place in the college.

“I look forward to continuing collaboration with students, faculty, staff, alumni and stakeholders in the coming years to assure the centrality of the liberal arts tradition in our university community,” he said.

Quinlan earned a bachelor’s in history at Arizona State University. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Indiana University and held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA. A specialist in the history of science and medicine, Quinlan started at U of I in 2001 and was named chair of the Department of History in 2012.

Quinlan has held Fulbright research fellowships in France and Italy, where he completed two major book projects. He has also received other awards, including research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Idaho Humanities Council. He was an invited resident at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin in 2015 and has lived and taught in Germany. Quinlan is working on a book on science and social change in modern Italy.

At U of I, Quinlan has received the Teaching Excellence Award and is a two-time recipient of the university’s Excellence in Interdisciplinary Research/Teaching Award. He served as a CLASS Humanities Fellow from 2009-11 and has received the University of Idaho Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence multiple times.

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Brian Walker
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About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at