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After 13 years as Associate Dean for Research and Engagement, Tom Birkland Returns to Faculty

Photo of 1911 Building next to photo of Tom Birkland.

After serving as associate dean for research and engagement for 13 years, Professor Tom Birkland is stepping down and will return to the faculty, effective July 1.

Birkland joined NC State in 2007 as a professor of public policy in the School of Public and International Affairs and served as the William T. Kretzer Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs from 2007 to 2017. He was named to his current post in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in January 2011. 

A member of the college’s administrative and executive leadership teams, he also serves as co-chair of the university’s Institutional Review Board and is a member of its Research Operations Council.

As associate dean, Birkland supported faculty in seeking grants and fellowships and served as an advocate for college research and scholarship. His other priorities included supporting engagement in the college and promoting multidisciplinary research.

“Tom’s leadership has been invaluable in shaping and enhancing the college’s research and engagement efforts across all disciplines,” said Deanna Dannels, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “He has displayed an unwavering commitment to those efforts and his work over the past 13 years has helped us expand our scholarly reach and increase our impact.”

Asked what accomplishments he is most proud of as associate dean, Birkland said: “I am proud of our research office staff, which has a campus-wide reputation for excellence in research administration, and I am proud of the amazing scholarship across all our departments in the college. Working with the outstanding faculty of our college has been a privilege and an honor.”

A political scientist specializing in the public policy process, Birkland is best known for his work on the politics related to natural hazards and industrial accidents. His research interests include the politics of pandemic disease and disaster and emergency and crisis management in the public and private sectors.

Birkland is the author of, among other works, Lessons of Disaster (Georgetown University Press) and An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making, his widely adopted textbook. He has also written numerous articles on politics, policy processes and management, and environmental and disaster management and policy, as well as book reviews, opinion pieces, and scholarly papers and reports.

Before joining NC State, Birkland was an associate professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, where he was a member of the political science and public administration and policy faculties and director of the Center for Policy Research. He also served as program director at the National Science Foundation, 2006 – 2007.

Birkland received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Washington, a master’s degree in political science from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon.

This spring, the college named sociology professor Sarah Bowen associate dean of research and engagement; she will begin her tenure on Jan. 1, 2025. Denis Provencher, the college’s associate dean of interdisciplinary affairs and partnerships, will serve in the interim role from July to December.