Cynthia Young, Ph.D.
Founding Dean, College of Science
Cynthia Y. Young became the Founding Dean of Clemson University’s new College of Science on Aug. 15, 2017. Under Dean Young’s leadership, the College developed an aspirational 2026 strategic plan, SCIForward, focused on excellence in scientific discovery, learning, and engagement that is both locally relevant and globally impactful. Dean Young and the Science Leadership Team are focused on three key goals: Strengthening the national and international prominence of our scientific discovery; Elevating the science learning experience; and Challenging the status quo.
The SCIENCE team of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, and its industry partners have had significant collective impact: increased student success with freshman retention and graduation rates continuing to increase and putting Clemson at the top of the ACC with three Goldwater Fellows; increased faculty success and recognition as evidenced by the increase in papers/citations/external funding/Ph.D. students per TT/T faculty and the percentage of faculty elected as fellows which continue strengthening Clemson’s R1 culture; and increased philanthropic support by increasing the endowment 30% through the establishment of the first College of Science unrestricted endowments and expanding endowed faculty positions 75%, and establishing a Dean’s Leadership Circle of unrestricted giving which helps support strategic initiatives.
Dean Young has worked to strengthen the culture of the power of strategic partnerships with the new School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences partnering with the College of Business and industry partners in a new Data Science Analytics Program; partnering with the Greenwood Genetics Center and the Self Family Foundation to recruit Clemson’s first National Academy of Sciences Fellow to lead and build the team at Clemson University’s new Center for Human Genetics; developing 3+2 partnerships in Physics and Mathematics with S.C. State University to strengthen the STEM pipeline and give students a more cost-effective pathway to a graduate degree; and partnering with Athletics to increase South Carolina citizen science literacy through Science outreach at Clemson’s spring football games.
She believes that diversity makes us smarter as we tackle tomorrow’s greatest scientific challenges and prepare the next generation of leading scientists, and has expanded the recruitment and engagement of our students and faculty who are traditionally underrepresented in Science. As a land-grant university’s College of Science, Dean Young is focused on the positive impact in South Carolina and serves on the Board of Directors of SCBIO and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the S.C. Governors School for Science and Mathematics.
Prior to coming to Clemson, Young spent 20 years at the University of Central Florida (UCF) where she served in several leadership roles, including Vice Provost for Faculty Excellence and UCF Global, Associate Dean for the College of Sciences, Co-Founder of UCF’s EXCEL program, the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, and the Faculty Senate leadership team.
Some of her key UCF leadership accomplishments include co-leading the development of UCF’s Strategic Plan (scale x excellence = impact!); leading the UCF EXCEL program which has demonstrated a 40% increase in STEM graduation rates; strategically expanding and diversifying the tenure track/tenured faculty by allocating 200 positions across colleges and interdisciplinary clusters using State of Florida performance-based funding; creating a targeted opportunity program to support faculty recruitment initiatives in inclusive excellence, academic partner hires and preeminent scholars (including five National Academy Fellows); developing and leading faculty/chair leadership programs; leading strategic reorganization and initiatives that resulted in increasing UCF students studying abroad by 30%; and assisting the University President with recruiting athletics directors, changing athletics conferences, and developing accurate and efficient systems for certifying student athletes and APR calculation. As the chair of two vice president search committees, she helped the University President recruit two transformational leaders (Provost and Athletics Director).
As an interdisciplinary scholar, Young developed mathematical models governing atmospheric effects in laser communication channels. Her scholarly impact has been recognized nationally by the Office of Naval Research with the Young Investigator Award, and she is a fellow of the International Society of Optics and Photonics. The author of more than 70 books and publications, Young secured continuous federal funding from 1999 through 2017 from the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. While at UCF, Young was named a Pegasus Professor and recognized through many research, teaching, and service awards.
Young’s Precalculus suite of mathematics books (College Algebra, Trigonometry, Algebra and Trigonometry, and Precalculus) published by John Wiley and Sons are in their fourth edition and are used throughout the U.S. and the world.
She earned a B.A. degree in education (secondary mathematics) from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in mathematical sciences from UCF, and her M.S. in electrical engineering and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Washington, where she was supported by a federal doctoral fellowship.