William Ditto became dean of the NC State College of Sciences in September 2015. Since then, he’s led the college to an even more impressive presence on campus and in the scientific community. Ditto spoke with us about what he’s learned as dean so far, and his excitement for the college’s future.
What lessons from your first year as dean will inform your decision-making and engagement with faculty, staff and students in the coming year?
One lesson I learned long ago, and one that’s been reinforced here at NC State, is that people need to talk to one another to be successful. That’s when creativity flourishes and great ideas surface. At the College of Sciences, those interactions could one day lead to game-changing breakthroughs that save lives, improve our environment and keep us safe and secure. So I’m going to continue to stress the importance of communication between our faculty, staff and students. As long as we’re sharing ideas, there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish.
What success(es) are you most proud of from your first year as dean?
I’m really proud of the way that our faculty, students, staff and alumni have united around the idea of making this college the finest college of sciences in the country. People here are not only smart and driven, they’re relentlessly positive and buoyed by a sense of pride in our institution. The sense of shared values and collegiality combined with a desire to make the world better embodies what is best about our culture.
How do you plan to build on the success of last year?
We’re going to continue working with the university on plans for an Imagination Corridor on North Campus. The corridor would parallel Hillsborough Street and link David Clark Labs on the west side with our college’s border with the College of Design on the east. Throughout the corridor would be pop-up labs — flexible and interactive displays of real science — and other collaborative spaces that would bring our work to the public. At the corridor’s center would be a distinctive “Crossroads” building on the former site of Harrelson Hall that would be the heart of campus. We’re still very much in the idea-generating stage of this project, but I’ve talked to lots of people on- and off-campus who are really excited about it.
What is your role in creating a dynamic and high-achieving college?
One of my roles is to empower creative teams while enabling all to realize their hopes and dreams. We have skilled people who are good at what they do, so my role is to give them the support they need, make sure we create a supportive environment, enable communication and build creative teams. One of my roles is to keep us focused on our primary mission of transforming lives and our community.
As dean, how do you support faculty and students in their academic careers?
There’s nothing more important than supporting faculty and students. To do that, I work to build environments where our students, faculty, staff and community can come together. That’s why we’re so excited about the Crossroads building and the Imagination Corridor. Our campus is a unique one at a unique time with remarkable opportunities and people who can make a difference and make everything count!
Learn more about how Dean Ditto and the College of Sciences make NC State a premier research university.