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Dr. Stuart Riggsby, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee, is stepping down from the post, and one of UT’s top researchers has been named interim dean.

Dr. Stuart Riggsby

Riggsby announced Friday that he will leave the deanship Oct. 13 to devote himself full time to development activities for Arts and Sciences, the university’s largest college. He was appointed dean in July 2003 after serving a year in an interim capacity.

Dr. Harry “Hap” McSween, Distinguished Professor of earth and planetary sciences, will serve until the search for a new dean is completed. McSween is internationally known for his research on Martian meteorites.

Riggsby previously had announced plans to retire from the university next summer, and a search for his successor is already underway.

“I want to make it clear that I am not abandoning the college,” Riggsby said in a note to Arts and Sciences department heads.

“The issues that will occupy me are central to the future of the college and its role in the chancellor’s vision of the campus on a par with AAU (American Association of Universities) members.”

Dr. Harry “Hap” McSween

He said one of his first priorities will be to plan and help raise funds for distinguished and endowed professorships.

“Stuart is one of the most outstanding members of the university community,” Chancellor Loren Crabtree said. “He is a distinguished microbiologist and teacher and has achieved the same level of accomplishments in his role as an administrator.

“I am happy that he is turning his considerable talents to development activities for the college.”

Riggsby served as an associate dean of the college from 1997 until his appointment as interim dean. He was the associate head of the microbiology department for 11 years. He earned the Ph.D. in molecular biology and biophysics from Yale University.

McSween served for 10 years as department head of earth and planetary sciences. NASA has funded his research on meteorites for the last 25 years. He currently is a co-director of the Mars exploration rover mission that is collecting information from Martian soil and rocks.

He is a recipient of the Leonard Medal, one of the world’s top honors for planetary geology.