Unity College’s new Chief Academic Officer is a grounded leader and Professor of Botany with years of experience in environmental education — including nearly a decade at the school itself.

Dr. Erika Latty, a forest ecologist who specializes in the effects of introduced tree disease on forest structure, holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a B.A. in Biology from Harvard University. Some of her most recently published research describes an approach to modeling the spatial distribution of the eastern hemlock throughout the state of Maine. Infestation and outbreak of the hemlock woolly adelgid along the eastern coast of the USA has led to widespread loss of hemlock and a shift in tree species composition toward hardwood stands, and developing an understanding of the geographic distribution of individual species can inform conservation practices to maintain functional ecosystems.

Prior to her recent promotion, Dr. Latty served as the Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship at Unity College from July 2016, and, prior to serving as Dean, she was a Unity College center director and faculty leader, teaching classes on introductory Biology, Systematic Botany, Environmental Plant Physiology, Agroecology, and more. She also managed the Unity College greenhouse and herbarium.

“Dr. Latty has earned the trust and respect of colleagues and students alike. She is a strong voice for the faculty, both within Unity College and out,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “We are fortunate to be able to raise this kind of leadership from within our ranks, and I am confident she will excel in helping Unity College continue to lead in the environmental century.”

As part of Unity’s “Leadership in Abundance” initiative, the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) at Unity College serves as first among equals in academic and curricular matters overseeing faculty, curriculum, academic policy, and delivery of academic programs.  The senior level team shares overall responsibility for meeting strategic institutional goals, establishing campus culture, managing risk, and—most importantly—stewarding the mission of the college. Dr. Latty will work with senior leadership to establish the strategic direction of the college with regard to curricular programs and manage its execution.

A first among equals approach means being responsive to changing conditions; an individual’s capacity to serve will, at times, stretch the boundaries of a strict job description in order to place project and need above reporting structure. First among equals means shared successes and shared failures. Celebrations are inclusive, and challenges, vulnerabilities, and mistakes are treated with transparency.

Dr. Latty has been serving as CAO since mid-April, working double-duty to complete her year-end Dean responsibilities and to hire her replacement as Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship, Dr. Pieter deHart.

“It has been invigorating to work closely with the President and senior leadership to continue to transform Unity College from a college with a strong regional presence to a leading national institution of higher education,” Dr. Latty said. “Together we will ensure the lasting success of all our students.”

Before coming to Unity College in 2007, Dr. Latty was Chair of the Environmental Studies Program and Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and a Research Associate at University Wisconsin-Madison.

Monday, June 05, 2017