University of New Mexico Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway has named interim deans across several areas including the Honors College, University College and Graduate Studies.

The interim dean appointments include the Honors College, Leslie Donovan; University College, David Weiss; and Graduate Studies, Maria Lane.  The Honors and University College appointments are effective immediately while the Graduate Studies appointment is effective Aug. 7.

“I’m really pleased to have these excellent leaders at UNM who are willing to step into these important roles on an interim basis.  Professors Donovan, Weiss, and Lane are some of our gems at UNM, each an expert in their field and each ready to take on these dean roles in service to our students,” said Holloway.

Leslie Donovan
Leslie Donovan

Leslie Donovan, Honors College
A UNM alumna, Leslie Donovan is no stranger to the Honors College having an affiliation since 1996 as a visiting assistant professor in the then University Honors Program. She has served ever since as an assistant professor (1997-2003), associate professor (2003-2014) and as a professor since 2014. Donovan has also had previous appointments in the College as interim chair (2016-2017) and as acting director of the Honors Program (Fall 2010). Prior to her role as an assistant professor, she held various instructor positions at UNM and the Albuquerque T-VI Community College (1986-96), now Central New Mexico Community College (CNM).

Donovan’s research publications and presentations include studies on J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf, saints' lives, Old Norse mythology, Old English literature, pedagogy, disability studies, and women and gender studies. Her most well-recognized works advocate strong pedagogical models and methods for teaching or emphasizing the unexpectedly powerful roles of women characters who are often overlooked or under-represented. Currently, she teaches a wide range of interdisciplinary humanities and communications courses for the UNM’s Honors College connected to her research work.

She also serves as the faculty coordinator for UNM’s Regents Scholars program and was the instructor/faculty advisor of Scribendi for 14.5 years. As Editor of the Mythopoeic Press, Donovan is a member of the governing board for the Mythopoeic Society, an international professional organization. She has been recognized with several teaching awards, including UNM’s Presidential Teaching Fellowship.

Donovan earned her BA from UNM in Creative Writing-Poetry, with a minor in Journalism, and she completed UNM’s Honors program as an undergraduate. She also earned an MA in medieval English literature, also from UNM, and a Ph.D. in English (Medieval Literature), University of Washington, in Seattle, Wash. She also earned a Diploma with Distinction in Early Irish Language and Literature from University College, Dublin, Ireland and a Certificate in Modern Icelandic from the University of Iceland Summer Program, in Reykjavík, Iceland.

David Weiss

David Weiss, University College
David Weiss, who will serve as interim dean in University College, is an associate professor in the Communication & Journalism Department where he teaches courses in strategic communication, political communication, and media studies. He has also taught graduate seminars including Mass Communication Theories and Media Structures & Institutions.

His research interests include media discourse, political and religious communication, and media and popular culture industries. His research has been manifested in two distinct research and publication streams including political communication and, in particular, its intersection with religious communication, and also linguistic manifestations of identity in media and popular culture. Currently, he is in the early stages of a project situated at the intersection of media theory and the political economy of media.

A critical scholar of the discourse, structures, and societal impact of the media and popular culture, Weiss critically investigates the roles played by the media in society. He is most interested in "culture war" issues such as mediated and other publicly communicated messages or texts that are located at the points where media, language, and popular culture intersect with the most powerful issues and institutions of our time: religion, politics, law, health and science, sex and sexuality, gender, and/or race and ethnicity.

Before his return to academia in 2000, Weiss worked in the advertising agency business in New York City for almost two decades. In addition to New Mexico, Weiss has taught in Oregon, Ohio, and Montana. Weiss earned his Ph.D. degree from UNM in 2005. He earned his BA in psychology from Cornell University and MA in journalism (literary nonfiction) from the University of Oregon.

Maria Lane
Maria Lane

Maria Lane, Graduate Studies
Maria Lane is a professor in the Department Geography and Environmental Studies, where she served as department chair from 2014-2019. She was recently awarded the 2023-2025 Presidential Teaching Fellowship, UNM’s highest teaching honor. Lane also founded and directs the R.H. Mallory Center for Community Geography.

Lane is a historical geographer whose research focuses on environmental management approaches and debates, often focusing on the origins and persistence of scientific management approaches. Lane has been teaching at UNM since 2006, and her courses focus on historical geography, critical cartography, and the geography of New Mexico and the Southwest.

She is the author of Fluid Geographies (U. Chicago Press, 2024) and Geographies of Mars (U. Chicago Press, 2011) – books about the colonial assumptions and impulses inherent in scientific knowledge – as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She is a recent editor of the Journal of Historical Geography, current chair of the J.B. Jackson Book Prize award committee, and a member of the Scientific Committee for the International Conference of Historical Geographers.

Lane earned her BA in Latin-American Studies from the University of Virginia (1995), an MS in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin (2000) and a Ph.D. in Geography, also from the University of Texas at Austin (2006).

Searches for new deans in each of these areas will be launched late this summer and continue across the fall term.