PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University will have a new dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, at least for the time being.

PSU Provost Lynette Olson named Dr. Mary Carol Pomatto as the interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. Pomatto will take over Jan. 16 for the current dean, Dr. Karl Kunkel, who accepted a provost position at Southeast Missouri State University.

Pomatto will fill the position for 18 months while the university finds Kunkel’s more permanent successor.

“I am deeply honored to serve the college and PSU in this interim capacity,” Pomatto said.

It’s “too early” for Pomatto to say if she is interested in the dean position, minus the interim. For now, she is just focused on the filling the role for the next 18 months.

“The goal will be to continue to move forward as a college,” Pomatto said. “Eighteen months is a short period of time and yet it is a long period of time in a student’s academic life.”

She does not foresee any “specific” changes under her tenure.

“The college has been in very good hands under the leadership of Dr. Karl Kunkel, so we will just keep on moving,” Pomatto said.

Kunkel’s last day will be Jan. 15. He has been dean of the college since 2011.

“The decision was really about career advancement for me,” Kunkel said. “What I am doing here is moving from a dean position to a provost position … which is an academic vice president.”

Kunkel was a finalist for a provost position in Michigan and Pennsylvania the last couple years.

Kunkel grew up in Missouri and received all three of his degrees from the University of Missouri. He also taught for 17 years at Missouri State University before coming to PSU.

“I am very familiar with Missouri politics, the Missouri higher education system,” he said, adding it “seemed like a very good fit.”

Kunkel said PSU and the College of Arts and Sciences continue to make great strides for higher education. He believes Pomatto will continue the tradition.

“I really enjoyed the experience here,” he said. “I really have a lot of optimism for the future. I believe Dr. Pomatto will do a great job as an interim. She is very experienced … I think she is an excellent choice and I am excited to see what happens here at Pittsburg in the future.”

Pomatto received her master's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University in 1978, an education specialist degree from PSU in 1983 and a doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University in 1992. She was named chair of the Nursing Department in 2005.

Pomatto also served as the university's liaison to the Kansas Legislature for nine years, according to a press release from the university.

The release says a committee will be formed this spring to help select a new dean. Advertising for the position will begin in the fall, and the appointment of a dean “by the end of the 2017 academic year.”

— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at mstavola@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.