CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mark Abbott, the dean of Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, has decided to decline an appointment to the National Science Foundation.

Abbott, who in early July was appointed assistant director responsible for the agency’s Geosciences directorate, will continue at the university as dean after he and National Science Foundation officials couldn’t find a way to structure the NSF appointment so that it would be effective for both parties.

Abbott’s strong connections to the oceanography and Earth sciences community in the United States – coupled with OSU’s national presence in those areas – would have greatly restricted his ability to evaluate and formulate ongoing projects and facilities, he said.

“Since I would retain my position with Oregon State during this temporary appointment at NSF, it greatly complicated matters,” Abbott said. “Oregon State is involved in many research areas that intersect with major programmatic decisions that NSF will be making over the next few years. NSF leadership worked diligently to find a path forward, but in the end we mutually agreed that we could not proceed.

“It might have been possible to abstain from the planning and decision-making process,” Abbott pointed out, “but there would have been serious restrictions on the level of engagement I could have – and that would have limited my effectiveness in the position as an advocate for Earth sciences in the U.S.”

OSU Provost and Executive Vice President Sabah Randhawa said he is “disappointed, yet delighted” by Abbott’s return.

“I am disappointed for Mark, but thrilled that he is returning to OSU to continue his work building one of the top oceanic and atmospheric science programs in the world,” Randhawa said. “His leadership has been extraordinary.”

Abbott joined the OSU faculty in 1988 and has been dean of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences since 2001. He is a member of the National Science Board, and serves as co-chair of Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s Climate Change Integration Group.

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Mark Abbott,