Shelley Stoffels named associate dean of faculty

July 13, 2022

By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From being the first woman to earn tenure in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to helping develop the college’s first Equity Action Plan, Shelley Stoffels has been making her mark on Penn State’s College of Engineering for more than 34 years. Now, the professor of civil and environmental engineering will continue on this path in a new role as the associate dean for faculty in the Penn State College of Engineering.  

Stoffels, who most recently served as an assistant dean for faculty equity under Tonya Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion, began her new role May 15. 

In the newly created position of associate dean for faculty, Stoffels will have primary responsibility for tenure-line and professional track faculty affairs, assisting Anthony Atchley, incoming acting dean of the College of Engineering. Atchley currently serves as the college’s senior associate dean, a position that will dissolve on Aug. 15 as he transitions to acting dean. Stoffels will provide collaborative leadership for faculty development, assessment and enhancement of faculty experiences. She also will serve as a liaison for faculty governance, ombudspersons and the vice provost for faculty affairs.   

“We have so many great faculty in this college, and if you just read about the research of one or two of them, their impacts on various sectors — health care, artificial intelligence, energy — are incredible,” Stoffels said. “At this point in my career, I realized that leadership and faculty mentorship is a strength of mine, and I can make a bigger difference by supporting other faculty in their research and teaching goals.” 

Stoffels started at Penn State in 1988 on a one-year contract as a research associate and lecturer. She was later hired for a tenure-line faculty position in pavement, materials and geotechnical engineering. She served in a number of leadership roles, including as chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs, chair of Engineering Faculty Council and faculty ombudsperson for the College of Engineering. 

Additionally, Stoffels recently was named a fellow to the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s Academic Leadership Program.  

In recent years, Stoffels served as professor-in-charge of graduate programs in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, established organized mentorship for junior faculty and coordinated space, equipment and staff for the Civil Infrastructure Testing and Evaluation Laboratory

As assistant dean for faculty equity, Stoffels said she learned to better understand the needs of and advocate for engineering faculty. In this role, she assisted Peeples in the creation of the college’s Equity Action Plan. The document details specific goals and pathways related to achieving equity in the college and across engineering, with a focus on iterative review and input to continue the cycle of assessing, learning and adapting.   

“Dr. Stoffels works tirelessly to help make the College of Engineering a model of equity and inclusion for our faculty, which serves as a strong example for our students and staff,” said Justin Schwartz, currently the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “She has the institutional knowledge and experience of three decades of service, as well as the compassion and global competency required to support faculty in research, teaching and service. In her new role, she will continue to partner with senior leadership in the college and across the University to facilitate faculty success.”  

According to Stoffels, she is eager to continue supporting these goals and making the college a place where the faculty are excited to work. 

“In working for the College’s Office of Equity and Inclusion and collaborating with the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion, I have gained a good understanding of the many challenges faculty face as they advance their careers and engage with students and staff,” Stoffels said. “I want all faculty to feel valued and included. Inclusion is for everyone, and I want to encourage and support faculty both as a group and individually.” 


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