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College of Sciences Dean Chris McGahan to Retire

College of Sciences Dean Chris McGahan will retire effective January 1, 2023, after dedicating 40 years of service to NC State. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden made the announcement today. John Blondin, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of physics and senior associate dean for administration in the College of Sciences, will serve as interim dean.

“Chris’ passion for the sciences and her decades of dedication to NC State have made her an invaluable asset to our university,” said Arden. “Her legacy gives our faculty, staff and students – both present and future – a solid foundation of research, teaching and service to build upon.”

McGahan was named dean of the college in November 2017. Since her appointment, she has played an instrumental role in advancing the college’s teaching, research and innovation efforts. This includes the interdisciplinary Genetics and Genomics Initiative, a forerunner of the universitywide Genetics and Genomics Academy. She led the development of the College of Sciences’ first strategic plan from 2020-21 and helped the college raise $71 million during the recently completed Think and Do the Extraordinary campaign, $11 million above the campaign goal. Today, the College of Sciences encompasses more than 4,100 students, 580 faculty, staff and postdoctoral researchers, and $40 million in annual research expenditures.

“I have had a wonderful career at NC State and I have made many lifelong friendships here. I had offers to go to other universities, but never considered them as I knew I was in the best place. Opportunities came my way here to give back and to hold leadership positions and I am very grateful to have had those chances,” said McGahan. “I offer my thanks to all of the people who helped me on this path, university leadership, faculty, staff and students. I am appreciative to all.”

McGahan joined the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983 and served as head of the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences for 14 years prior to being named dean of the college in 2017. McGahan’s tremendous and incredibly productive research career has revolved around the fields of ocular physiology and pharmacology, with a focus on studying the biochemistry of the ocular lens and retina. For more than 30 years, she has been funded by a National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant. 

She was named one of NC State’s 125 Transformational Women by the Council on the Status of Women, and was part of the university’s inaugural Research Leadership Academy class. She is also past president of the International Society for Eye Research, an organization focused on exploring ideas related to contemporary topics in eye and vision research. McGahan served many years on the NIH study sections, and finally a 4 year term on the National Advisory Eye Council (NIH) and co-authored  a 10-year plan for the National Eye Institute (2010-2020). 

McGahan received her doctorate in pharmacology from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine at the City University of New York and did postdoctoral work at the Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. 

Upon retirement, McGahan plans on pursuing volunteer service work in areas of need, such as food insecurity and K-12 STEM education. She also looks forward to spending more time with her family, especially her grandchildren. 

A celebration of McGahan’s years of service will be held later this fall.

“We’re fortunate to have had a visionary leader like Chris at the helm of one of NC State’s largest colleges for nearly five years. She has helped build our reputation as a R1 university and is an incredibly talented faculty member, and I am confident in the College of Sciences’ future direction due to her leadership. She will be greatly missed, but we all wish her the best in the next chapter of her life,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson.

Arden will soon make an announcement on the search for a new dean for the College of Sciences.

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