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Former Faculty Council chair steps into role as interim dean

Dr. Leona Rubin

Story by JeongAn Choi

Published by Mizzou Weekly

When Leona Rubin came to MU in 1989 as a professor of biomedical sciences, she did not imagine she’d ever be in charge of the Graduate School. This summer, Rubin started her position as interim dean of the school.

Her past experience of working with graduate students and serving as chair of Faculty Council from 2009 to 2011 has helped her in the position. “I think [having the] exposure to multiple divisions on campus and the faculty across the campus is really good for a graduate dean,” she said.

Rubin is a professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and a cardiovascular research scientist. Her research involves how cardiac muscles work at the cellular level. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Temple University, a master’s degree in zoology from Rutgers University and a doctoral degree in cell biology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Before coming to MU, she taught at Washington University in St. Louis as a postdoctoral fellow. While working on her PhD, she taught medical students at the University of Colorado at Denver.

The best and the most challenging part of being dean, Rubin said, is that she works campuswide. She needs to be aware of what’s going on in all parts of the campus since research by graduate students plays an important role at the university. 

As interim dean, Rubin and other faculty members are looking at new interdisciplinary programs that might attract graduate students to MU and provide undergraduate students options for in-depth studies.

“There are certainly programs that faculty are interested in moving on and getting created,” she said. Some of these programs involve working “around specific research or scholarship areas.” Through such programs, MU faculty and students would be able to stimulate unique questions and approaches on different subjects they’re studying, Rubin said.“ Over the next year, I’ll help them do that.”

Carolyn Henry, a professor of oncology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, said Rubin’s experience and dedication serves the dean position well. 

“I believe Dr. Rubin is an excellent fit for her new position, given her academic credentials and track record of mentorship, her ability to approach new challenges with an open mind and fresh perspective, and her unwavering commitment to the educational experience of students at MU,” said Henry, Mizzou Advantage One Health/One Medicine facilitator.

“I have watched her career flourish over the years and have witnessed her commitment to research, education and to MU,” Henry said.