University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen today announced the appointment of Dr. Charles Bicak as senior vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

Dr. Bicak is currently dean of the School of Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. After approval by the Board of Regents, his appointment will be effective March 2, 2009. He will also hold a faculty position as professor of biology.

In making the announcement, Chancellor Kristensen said: “Dr. Bicak will bring a distinguished academic and administrative record to UNK.”

A graduate of Kearney State College/UNK, Dr. Bicak holds an M.S. in plant science from the University of British Columbia and a Ph.D. in range science from Colorado State University. He taught biology at California State University, Bakersfield for nine years, rising to tenured full professor and chair of the Department of Biology. In 1992, he joined the UNK Department of Biology. He  chaired the UNK biology department  for 13 years, from 1997 to 2004, and was the assistant to the dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences from 1993 to 1995. While at UNK, he served on numerous committees in the College of Natural and Social Sciences, as well as assisted with program reviews for five departments and the General Studies Program.

He received the Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award, and was active in regional and professional organizations, including serving on the board of directors of the Central Platte Natural Resources District and the advisory board of the Edgerton Education Center.

In 2005, he accepted an appointment as dean of Natural Sciences at Saint Edward’s, where he has also served as president of the university’s Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, a corporation which promotes environmental education, research and preservation.  He also was president of the Texas Hispanic Serving Institutions Consortium, a group of 21 Texas colleges and universities.

Dr. Bicak’s research has focused on plant/ecosystem response to environmental stress, and he has also been interested in enhancing student participation in scientific inquiry. He has produced a lengthy list of publications, presentations and research grants, and has advised many graduate student theses in biology at UNK. His teaching interests have ranged from freshman biology to graduate courses in plant physiology, plant ecology, and rangeland and wildlife management.

“I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Bicak back to his Alma Mater,” Chancellor Kristensen said. “I want especially to thank the Senior Vice Chancellor Search Committee, led by Dean Janet Wilke, for their good work and advice throughout the search process.  Thanks also to all members of the campus community who provided feedback on our finalist candidates.”

Dr. Finnie Murray will extend his service to UNK as senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Services until Dr. Bicak arrives. In addition, he will begin directing the UNK Office of International Programs in January as earlier planned.

“In the meantime, he (Dr. Murray) and I will work with Dr. Bicak to facilitate a smooth transition,” Chancellor Kristensen said.