Executive Director, Five Colleges
Neal Abraham came to the Pioneer Valley in August 2009 to serve as executive director of Five Colleges, Incorporated and Five College Professor of Physics. For the previous 11 years he served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty and professor of physics and astronomy at DePauw University. In summer, 2004 Neal was also appointed executive vice president. While at DePauw he supervised the expansion of the faculty by 60 fulltime positions, the hiring of 60 percent of the 225 fulltime faculty members, improvements in faculty compensation and in faculty development programs. He oversaw all library and technology services, including a $1.5 million comprehensive project to upgrade the administrative technology and data operations systems. Neal also managed the renovation and construction of $100 million in academic buildings (science, art, ethics, performing arts). He led two strategic planning endeavors for DePauw and contributed substantially to both internationalization and diversity programs. For his contributions to diversity and equity at DePauw and in the Greencastle community, Neal was recognized as the NAACP Citizen of the Year in spring 2008.
Prior to accepting his current position at DePauw he was a faculty member, department chair and holder of an endowed professorship in physics at Bryn Mawr College (1980-1998) after teaching in physics at Swarthmore College (1977-1980).
Neal received his bachelor of science degree in 1972 from Dickinson College and his doctorate in physics in 1977 from Bryn Mawr College.
He has received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. He has been elected a fellow of three professional societies: the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has held visiting faculty appointments in Italy (Florence, Milan, Torino, Pisa), France (Lille, Nice, Lannion), Belgium (Bruxelles), Spain (Mallorca, Terrassa), Russia (Nizhny Novgorod) and China (Changchun).
Neal's areas of research include nonlinear dynamics, chaos and lasers. He has published more than 200 scientific publications. His work has been supported by Research Corporation, the National Science Foundation, the Scientific Affairs Programme of NATO, the Army Research Office and National Supercomputing Centers. He has lectured at 13 different international schools and conferences and has taught short courses on laser dynamics and chaos.
Neal has supervised 52 undergraduate research projects and 16 graduate students in master's and doctoral work leading to six master of arts degrees and 12 doctoral degrees. Eight of his doctoral students currently hold faculty positions in U.S. colleges and universities, two are faculty members in other countries. He has served in founding and leadership roles for Project Kaleidoscope, the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research and the Council on Undergraduate Research. He was a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education of the National Research Council and one of the principal authors of its handbook for science teaching Science Teaching Reconsidered. Neal also served as a member of the advisory board of the NRC's Commission on Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education.
He joined with Jerry Gollub of Haverford College to author aPhysics Today article on research in liberal arts colleges and with Stuart Crampton of Williams College to prepare the working paper on research in physics in liberal arts colleges and to present it to the assembled presidents at the first of the Oberlin Conferences on the Research Colleges in the mid 1980's.
While at DePauw Neal managed three multi-million dollar grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation for faculty career enhancement programs at DePauw and Denison universities; for eight liberal arts colleges including DePauw and Denison; and for 23 liberal arts colleges including the cluster of eight colleges. He also served as a member of the steering committee and as host site convener/moderator for the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, an association of roughly 40 liberal arts colleges which offer pre-doctoral and post-doctoral appointments to support their institutional diversity efforts.
At Bryn Mawr Neal directed for three years the college's grant under the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's New Liberal Arts program for the infusion of technology and science throughout the curriculum, and he later served on the steering committee for new college-wide critical thinking and critical writing courses for first- and second-year students.
With colleagues in the physics department at Bryn Mawr College he was a recipient of the Presidential Award for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Mentoring in fall 1998.
Neal has held three grants from NSF's instructional equipment programs, one grant for undergraduate research participation, and inter-institutional grants for curricular development and collaborative research.
He has served on review panels for Research Corporation and the National Science Foundation. He has also reviewed research proposals for six other US agencies and for the national science foundations of eight other countries.
Neal has served as an editor of seven international physics journals and has been a member of 12 different editorial boards.
He has participated in or chaired 17 departmental reviews of physics or physics and astronomy programs (or science divisional programs, including those at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College.
Neal is a member of the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, the Lasers and Electro-Optics Society of IEEE, the Council on Undergraduate Research, the Association for Women in Science, the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Academic Deans and the American Association for Higher Education.