By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

Jonathan Leib, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography, has been named interim dean of the College of Arts & Letters, effective Jan. 25. He follows Dean Kent Sandstrom, who is stepping back to return to teaching full-time in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.

"I am very excited by this opportunity and look forward to working with my colleagues in the college to further our mission in teaching and research in the arts, humanities and social science," Leib said. "While these are challenging times for us all, the sense of community in the college fostered by Dean Sandstrom will continue to serve us well in the future."

Leib is well-acquainted with the college, having joined the faculty in 2008 and served as director of the geography program from 2009 to 2017, and chair of the Department of Geography and Political Science from 2017 until his appointment as interim dean. In these roles, Leib has more than doubled the faculty of the geography program and expanded its teaching capabilities, helped to start ODU's first GIS lab and worked to increase student recruitment and alumni engagement. Prior to his arrival at ODU, Leib was on the faculty at Florida State University, where he was Graduate Program Director for the Department of Geography's M.A. and Ph.D. programs from 2002 to 2006.

Leib received his Ph.D. and M.A. in geography from Syracuse University and B.A. in geography and political science from Mary Washington College. His research has focused primarily on political and cultural change in the American South, specifically on the politics of memory and representation on the Southern landscape involving Civil War and Civil Rights iconography, and issues of race, voting rights and elections.

Along with more than 50 publications and co-editing two books, Leib has served as managing editor of the award-winning, six-volume "Encyclopedia of Geography" and editor of the "Journal of Geography," North America's leading geography education journal. His accolades include outstanding research and service awards from the Southeastern Division of the American Association of Geographers and research and distinguished teaching achievement awards from the National Council for Geographic Education.

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