Meet the Dean
Paul Wahlbeck was named dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in 2020, after serving as interim dean for two years. As the leader of the university’s largest academic unit, he remains committed to enhancing the student experience through investments in efforts to ensure student success and the development of innovative programs and expanded experiential learning opportunities. He also is focused on fostering a supportive environment for world-changing faculty research and building strong relationships with alumni.
Dean Wahlbeck came to Columbian College in 1993 as a faculty member in the Political Science Department after receiving his PhD from Washington University. As chair of the Political Science Department, beginning in 2011, he focused on strengthening student engagement with career and student research panels, making the political science doctoral program one of the strongest in the country and supporting faculty scholarship. As vice dean for programs and research from 2016 to 2018, he oversaw graduate enrollment, research growth and academic and student services.
Dean Wahlbeck’s scholarship centers on Supreme Court decision making, especially strategic interaction among justices. His co-authored book, Crafting Law on the Supreme Court: The Collegial Game, was awarded the 2017 Lasting Contribution Award from the Law & Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. His work has been published in many noteworthy journals, including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics and Political Research Quarterly. A holder of a JD from the University of Illinois, he served as an attorney for the Illinois General Assembly and the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation earlier in his career. In addition, he served as director of the Law and Social Science Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2001 to 2003 and, in 2006, was named director of NSF’s Political Science Program. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the GW School of Law.