Meet our Deans
- Steven Matson, Dean
- Leslie Lerea, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
- Stephanie Schmitt, Associate Dean for Academics
Steven W. Matson, professor and former chair of the department of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became dean of The Graduate School on July 1, 2008.
A member of the faculty since 1983, Matson is widely respected for his teaching, mentoring and research in the field of genetics and molecular biology, said Bernadette Gray-Little, executive vice chancellor and provost, in announcing the appointment.
On the national level, Matson is a recipient of the American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Biological Chemistry, where he served as an editorial board member from 2000 to 2005.
At Carolina, he has taught courses a variety of courses, including: Current Topics in Biology, Advanced Molecular Biology, Advanced Cell Biology and honors sections of Genetics and Molecular Biology. A 2004 recipient of the University's Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and a 2005 Institute of Arts and Humanities Leadership Fellow, Matson is also a member of the Chancellors Advisory Committee, Bank of America Distinguished Professorship review panel and Honors Program Faculty Advisory Board. He is a past member and chair of the Pre-health Professions Advising Task Force and has served on various University administrative review committees through the years.
Matson's research focuses on DNA repair, conjugative DNA transfer and enzymatic mechanisms and biological roles of DNA helicases. His laboratory's long-term goal is to understand the molecular role of several helicases in the bacterium E. coli and the budding yeast S. cerevisiae.
A native of Coos Bay, Ore., Matson earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Colgate University. His master's and doctoral degrees are from the University of Rochester, both in biochemistry.
Leslie S. Lerea is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs in The Graduate School. Receiving her Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Lerea assumed her role in The Graduate School August 1, 2006. In this position, she is responsible for orienting graduate students to the university and recognizing their accomplishments. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs provides administrative oversight for orientation for new incoming students and the annual Hooding Ceremony to recognize those students who have completed their doctoral training. She also coordinates a number of additional recognition events throughout the academic year. Dr. Lerea will oversee the selection of the recipient of the Boka Hadzija Award for Service by a graduate student and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctorial Mentoring. She also provides oversight for the Graduate Student Teaching Assistants program to ensure program evaluation and effectiveness.
Associate Dean Lerea develops and provides administrative oversight for Graduate School initiatives related to recruitment and retention with special emphasis on students from underrepresented groups. Dr. Lerea will lead outreach initiatives with minority institutions across North Carolina and the Southeast, and will examine issues related to retention of traditional graduate students. She will offer direction on a number of ongoing Graduate School programs related to the recruitment of a diverse student body including the alliance with the Ronald McNair Post Baccalaureate Program and an NIH funded BRIDGES Program that involves collaboration with North Carolina Central University and North Carolina A & T State University. Dr. Lerea will oversee additional events throughout the year to focus on the needs of students from underrepresented groups.
The Associate Dean for Student Affairs manages the range of academic appeals from students as outlined in The Graduate School Handbook and Catalog. Dr. Lerea is available to meet with students individually to assist with personal or academic concerns, and to provide advocacy for graduate students within the University.
Dr. Lerea began her career as a scientist studying cell-cell communication and gene regulation in neuronal cells involved in epilepsy at Duke University School of Medicine. She moved away from bench science to pursue science education interests and to work towards increasing diversity in science professions. She has been involved in developing education programs for undergraduate students in their pursuit towards graduate school and postgraduate fellows as they move towards academic career positions. In addition to her role as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, she is Director of the SPIRE Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and Associate Director of the Partnership for Minority Advancement in the Biomolecular Sciences (PMABS). She has worked closely with students, faculty, and administrators at UNC-Chapel Hill as well as at private and public minority serving institutions across North Carolina.
Stephanie Schmitt is the Associate Dean for Academics in The Graduate School. In this position, she is responsible for administrative oversight for graduate education assessment efforts such as the campus-wide Program Review Process. This includes approximately 8 external reviews each year and an equal number of closure meetings and midpoint evaluations for prior reviews. The review process is conducted for all undergraduate and graduate programs at the university in concert with the Provost's Office and includes the preparation of a self-study, a site visit by external reviewers from peer institutions, and extensive follow-up from the recommendations such as program responses and midpoint progress evaluations.
Stephanie also has oversight for several academic initiatives, including The Graduate School's professional development workshops and courses, international efforts such as the Preparing International Teaching Assistants Program, admissions and enrolled student services for graduate programs, and major data collection and reporting initiatives within The Graduate School. Other academic initiatives falling within the scope of Stephanie's responsibilities include facilitating new and revised degree/program requests for graduate studies at Carolina, overseeing the graduate certificate policies process, chairing the Academic Policy Committee of The Graduate School's Administrative Board, maintaining the university's polices on graduate faculty designation, and updating academic policies like the Graduate Handbook relevant to graduate education.
Stephanie also represents graduate education interests on various university-wide committees, including the Student Data Stewards, Friday Center Advisory Board, International Advisory Council, Curriculum Committee, Diploma Task Force, and Academic Planning Task Force.
Prior to coming to The Graduate School Stephanie was an executive with a management consulting firm and served as a nonpartisan policy analyst with the North Carolina General Assembly. An alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stephanie earned her BA in International Studies and Political Science, her MPA from the School of Government, and her PhD in Public Policy. She has participated in and worked closely with programs at Carolina Leadership Development, Carolina Women's Center, and the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, for which she was inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece honor society and the Frank Porter Graham Graduate & Professional Student Honor Society.