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Kiss chosen as graduate school dean

Newly selected Dean John Kiss hopes to see an increase in the amount of interdisciplanry work in the school amongt other improvments.
Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Provost

This summer, John Z. Kiss will transition from Oxford, Ohio, to Oxford, Miss., to begin work as the new dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School. Kiss, formerly a professor and chair of botany at Miami University in Ohio, is replacing Maurice Eftink as dean.
Richard Gershon, professor and dean of the university’s School of Law and head of the search committee for the new graduate dean said the search committee included a variety of faculty members, ranging from the School of Pharmacy to the UM Office of Research to fellow dean Ken Cyree from the School of Business.
“We did an extensive search that really lasted more than a year, and frankly he was in everybody’s estimation the very best candidate,” Gershon said. “There was strong consensus from the committee and all the people that met Dr. Kiss.”
Kiss learned about the job opportunity through the Chronicle of Higher Education. Prior to his interview, he had never been to Ole Miss, but upon arrival he was pleased with Oxford and the campus. 
As dean, Kiss will allocate resources to each graduate program and help to increase faculty, along with fundraising and other duties. He said he is excited to oversee the multiple disciplines of each graduate program and hopes to broaden his perspective and have a positive effect on the university.
“I think my first priority is to encourage interdisciplinary work among graduate students,” Kiss said. “I’d like to, in combination with the other deans, work towards establishing some exciting new programs that will be exciting and appealing to new graduate students.”
Kiss went to graduate school at Rutgers University, where he received his doctoral degree in botany and plant physiology. He also serves on the International Committee on Space Research as the vice chairman and is well-known for his research on botany and space technology, primarily involving plants. His wife Helen will work at the UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs while their son Steven finishes school at Miami University. 
“We’re really excited to have him as a part of our community.” Gershon said. “He’s going to do wonderful things with the graduate program, and I look forward to having him as a dean colleague.”
Eftink is stepping down so that he can better focus on his other responsibilities at the university. Since 1998, Eftink has been associate provost and dean of the graduate school. Before that, he taught chemistry and biochemistry. Eftink will continue to act as associate provost.
“He did a great job, but it was time for this to be done by one person being the graduate dean only, and not having someone try to do two very big roles,” Gershon said.
Kiss will begin his four-year term Sept. 1.