Like many new Cornell students, Juli Wade ‘87 was unsure of her career path when she initially arrived on campus, but her experience working in the lab of Professor Elizabeth Adkins Regan, professor emerita of psychology and neurobiology and behavior in the College of Arts & Sciences influenced her decision to pursue psychology. Wade was recently named the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut after spending more than two decades at Michigan State University.
“A liberal arts education has enormous value in the complex, changing, and ambiguous world we live in now,” she said in a press release about her appointment. “It helps students to acquire essential skills and opportunities in areas such as critical thinking, communication, ethics and multicultural understanding. They are therefore well positioned to be lifelong learners with a sense of social responsibility, who can excel in any career.”
As a new student at Cornell, Wade thought about studying biology or being pre-med before ultimately deciding on her psychology major. She was a member of the marching band and a writer for the Cornell Daily Sun.
Wade is in the front row, third from the right
“The reason I’m in the field that I’m in is because I worked in [Adkins Regan’s] lab as an undergraduate," Wade said. "I did an honors thesis with her, and it really changed everything for me. It was an incredible experience and because of what I learned there and learned from her, I went to grad school and got a PhD and became a professor. So it really launched my career in the direction that it took.”
After graduate school, Wade joined Michigan State in 1995 as an assistant professor of psychology. She later became chair of the psychology department before becoming the associate provost for faculty and academic staff development in 2017, where she serves as director of the Academic Advancement Network, coordinating the development of future leaders while enhancing the performance of current ones.
As dean, Wade will oversee the university’s largest college, with more than 9,800 undergraduates, 1,700 graduate students and 750 faculty members. The college offers 50 undergraduate majors.
She sees the size and scope of the college as an opportunity to facilitate interdisciplinary research across the range of programs. “One of the great challenges, but also one of the opportunities I’m most excited about, is increasing connections across disparate disciplines in terms of both enhancing interdisciplinary scholarship and educational opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students,” she said.
Wade’s recent research has used lizards and songbirds to understand how structural and biochemical changes within the central nervous system regulate behavior. She has secured more than $7 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation since 1996.
She believes that her work throughout her career has prepared her well to build relationships across various disciplines within the college.
“The kind of work that I’ve done throughout my career has been interdisciplinary, across psychology, neuroscience, and biochemistry,” she said. “Building bridges across disciplines has always been really interesting to me.”
Wade is also a fellow of the American Council on Education, and an associate editor for the journal Hormones and Behavior. She will join UConn in July.