Skip to header Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Stephanie Caulder, CHSSA Founding Dean

Stephanie Caulder, CHSSA Founding Dean
Stephanie Caulder, CHSSA Founding Dean

When Stephanie Caulder considered the opportunity to return to her hometown to lead a brand-new college at UNCW, she knew it was a calling and her chance to give back.

“I had great mentors throughout my education--some of them in Wilmington--so the fact that I can be a small part of helping our students have a similar transformative experience seems like the least I could do to repay all that I have received,” Caulder said.

As founding dean of the College of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, Caulder’s first order of business since arriving on campus is a listening tour that includes face-to-face visits with 15 departments and one-on-one meetings with administrators.

“I wish I had two more hours each day to distill all I am learning from our faculty and staff,” said Caulder, who has been involved in university governance and managed similar academic structures in her previous roles at Radford University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina Greensboro Community Music School.

She is also an accomplished musician who has traveled the world playing the oboe professionally, most recently in Bangkok, Thailand. Locally, she is already playing with the Wilmington Symphonic Winds, and she hopes to do more musical collaborations with her colleagues on campus and in the community.

“Beckwith Recital Hall in the UNCW Cultural Arts Building is a terrific acoustical space, so I may sneak over there one day soon!” she said.

For now, Caulder remains focused on supporting and advocating for the important work happening within CHSSA.

“UNCW’s new vision statement, ‘UNCW transforms lives,’ captures what we do in CHSSA so well,” she said. “Our students’ lives are changed by the power of an education. The research our faculty and students are doing is advancing their disciplines and helping our community and world to approach some of its most critical problems.”

She sees her role as dean as “part cheerleader and part changemaker” to amplify and elevate the variety of CHSSA work internally and externally. 

“When people think of research, they may naturally think of a science laboratory with beakers and pipettes. This is not the only type of research being done here at UNCW-- we have labs, too!” she said. “Our CHSSA faculty are breaking ceilings and changing the face of their respective disciplines through their research, publications and artistic endeavors. They are receiving million-dollar grants and helping our communities. What is even better, they are involving our students in these pursuits.” 

The UNCW student experience also drives Caulder’s leadership intentions and her personal ambitions. This fall, she plans to form a CHSSA Student Advisory Council to gather valuable feedback from students that would inform decision-making and support student needs.

“Being a small part of our students' professional and personal growth is way more fulfilling than anything I have ever personally achieved. It seems cliché, but that is my continuous reward for the hard work I have put in for almost 25 years.”