Contact Us  |  Search:   
 
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us Projects Publications Membership Staff Email Updates

Sally Mason is President Emerita of the University of Iowa. Trained as a cell developmental biologist, she also holds a full professorship in the Department of Biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Currently, President Mason is overseeing a historic era of campus transformation, including rebuilding in the wake of the historic 2008 flooding, especially the renewal of an arts campus for the 21st century; the construction of a state-of-the-art children’s hospital and biomedical discovery research center; and the first new residence hall since 1968. At Iowa, President Mason has also spearheaded a sustainable university initiative, making sustainability a central priority of all aspects of the university enterprise. Under President Mason’s leadership, the UI has successfully met current economic challenges through careful planning, strategic prioritization, and increased efficiency. Other major accomplishments during President Mason’s tenure have been a student success initiative that has led to increased enrollment and student retention, as well as an expansion of partnership agreements with Iowa’s community colleges in order to offer UI degrees to students throughout the state through on-site and distance learning programs. President Mason successfully advocated for a two-year tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students for the 2013–2015 academic years, the first such tuition freeze in nearly forty years. The daughter of an immigrant father and the first child in her family to attend college, President Mason received her B.A. in zoology from the University of Kentucky in 1972, her M.S. from Purdue University in 1974, and her Ph.D. in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology from the University of Arizona in 1978. She spent two postdoctoral research years at Indiana University before joining the molecular biosciences faculty at the University of Kansas in 1981, where she received awards for outstanding undergraduate advising and teaching and was awarded a prestigious Kemper Teaching Fellowship. After stints as acting chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in 1995 she won appointment as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the largest academic unit on the KU campus. President Mason served as provost of Purdue University from 2001–2007, where she was responsible for planning, managing, and reviewing all academic programs at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and four affiliated branch campuses throughout Indiana. President Mason is the author of many scientific papers and has obtained a number of research grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Wesley Research Foundation, and the Lilly Endowment. Her research interests have focused on the developmental biology, genetics, and biochemistry of pigment cells and pigments in the skin of vertebrates, and she served as president of the PanAmerican Society for Pigment Cell Research. Since 2006, President Mason has been appointed by the President of the United States to three terms on the National Medal of Science President’s Committee, including a term as chair. She has also served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) review panel of the NSF Science and Technology Centers Program.