College of Arts and Sciences introduces new associate dean

Matt Arterburn, new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

The new associate dean of the College Arts and Sciences, Matt Arterburn, may be new to his position, but is not new to Washburn University. Arterburn has been a biology teacher at Washburn for eight years. After earning his Ph.D. at Washington State University, Arterburn was able to find a job right out of college with Washburn.

“I was hoping to get into teaching right away,” said Arterburn. “I wanted to find a place that valued undergrad education. I wanted to interact with students because that is what I enjoyed most as a grad student. Washburn has the academic mission that I wanted—to be able to interact with students a great deal. I was fortunate enough that Washburn wanted to take a chance on me.”

Arterburn will be working with the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Laura Stephenson.

“Matt comes to us with a lot of experience through a lot of service work that he’s done,” said Stephenson, “He’s got a lot of experience and a lot of ideas. We are really excited about having him. He will be a strong contributor.”

Even though Arterburn obtained a Ph.D. in wheat genetics, he developed Celiac disease, where he can no longer eat wheat or anything with gluten several years later. Despite the challenges of the disease, Arterburn still enjoys cooking and makes a lot of ethnic dishes that use rice to supplant the wheat meals he used to eat.

Arterburn also enjoys running and hiking and has participated in a few half marathons.

“There is some good hiking to be found around here if you know where to look for it,” said Arterburn. “The Flint hills have some good trails and there are 50 miles of trails around Clinton Lake in Lawrence.”

Arterburn has had a lot of mentors in his life. At first he wanted to be a naval officer like his father but then later felt that was hero worship. He believes military life was hard on him and on his family while growing up. So instead decided he wanted to choose a different path.

“My first high school biology teacher, Mr. Buzzi, taught me the basics in genetics,” said Arterburn, “I never wavered from that. He was quite a mentor, he inspired me.”

From there, Arterburn says he never looked back. His next mentor was Steve Jones at Washington State University who is a very prominent wheat researcher who does a lot of work in organics and sustainable agriculture.

“John Mulligan, who is the department chair here in biology was a huge mentor to me when I started here as a faculty member,” said Arterburn. “He was a huge mentor for me. I spent a lot of time in his office. He really helped me through those first years of learning how to teach well.”

Arterburn thinks Washburn is the most student oriented environment he has ever seen.  

 “It has the strongest mission of promoting success and has good career outlets,” said Arterburn. “All the faculty members have as their goal the betterment of the student experience which is a very, very strong value.”