An internationally recognized scientist has been named the next president of Unity College.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Tim Glidden announced recently that Dr. Stephen Mulkey, director of the Program in Environmental Science at the University of Idaho, will assume duties in July as president of Unity College.

Mulkey will lead a college that has achieved a number of transformative milestones over the past five years under the leadership of outgoing President Mitchell Thomashow, according to a press release from the college.

“In some ways our tag line ‘America’s Environmental College’ expressed our collective aspirations,” said Glidden, in the press releaes. “The scope of achievements that Unity has attained and measure of leadership it has shown in environmental education, particularly relating to sustainability, makes our tagline ever more relevant and accurate. With Dr. Mulkey set to assume the presidency of the College, Unity clearly has achieved a legitimate place among the best small environmental colleges in the United States.”

Mulkey’s scientific research spans more than three decades and has included research in ecosystems spanning the globe. He has pursued research on the functional ecology of forests in Eastern Amazonia, tropical forest canopies in wet and dry forests of Central Panama, and tropical alpine rosette species in East Africa.

“There is a close knit community at Unity College that is dedicated, hands-on, collaborative and supportive,” said Mulkey, in the press release. “From the moment I arrived on campus I felt a warm, open atmosphere and a connection with community. There is a boundless enthusiasm and sense of possibility linking all of those dedicated to this endeavor together. It will be a pleasure to serve this community and grow with it.”

In 2010, Unity College was named to the top 30 of the Washington Monthly college rankings, and was one of 18 U.S. colleges and universities named to The Princeton Review’s Green Rating Honor Roll. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching also selected Unity College for its 2010 Community Engagement Classification. Unity College was among only two institutions of higher learning in Maine that were among the 112 U.S. colleges and universities named to the list.

“I have been impressed for some time by the achievements of Unity College,” Mulkey said. “From its vision for the creation of academic centers to focus and organization of the curriculum to meet the complex, ever-changing needs of a natural world facing the crisis of climate change, to its leadership in sustainability, this college has reached a place where its promise really is coming to fruition. It is a distinct honor to serve Unity College at this time of growing national recognition and I am privileged to help continue the college’s transformation and growth.”

As the announcement of Mulkey’s appointment was made, the Unity College campus continued its transformation with the construction of TerraHaus, the first dormitory building on a college campus in the United States built to the Passive House standards, the most energy efficient standards for building. The 10-bed residence ready for the 2011-2012 academic year will be the first of three planned for the campus, each being used not only for housing but for curricular and co-curricular programs.

TerraHaus is the latest in a series of projects that the college said have not only expanded the range of educational options available at the school, but that have highlighted its national leadership aspirations.

In 2008, Unity House was constructed as the first campus residence of the college president. The LEED Platinum, net-zero prototype home of the future built by Bensonwood Homes of New Hampshire and designed as part of the groundbreaking Open Prototype Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture, achieved LEED Platinum designation, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating for environmentally sustainable construction.

“Unity’s successes go well beyond bricks and mortar,” noted Glidden, in the press release. “The entire campus and extended community is connected to environmental issues and research around the world. At this moment we have students conducting marine research in Costa Rica and working at a panda preserve in China. There are no limits that we have placed on Unity’s future and this is precisely the kind of thinking and attitude that Dr. Mulkey believes to be true, and it is why his leadership will build upon the foundation that is already in place here.”

Glidden praised what he described as Mulkey’s extensive track record of success in the sciences, strong reputation among his peers in higher education, and ability to articulate a vision for attaining key goals.

“This is an opportunity to lead Unity College to continue developing its strategic contacts within the higher education, philanthropic and sustainability communities both regionally and nationally,” Mulkey stated, in the press release. “We will form partnerships where appropriate with stakeholders working in business and sustainability science and technology, and position Unity College to attain a place of national prominence among the very best small environmental colleges.”

Mulkey holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife from the University of Missouri, Columbia; a Master of Arts degree in Biology and Ecology, also from the University of Missouri; and a Ph.D. in Biology and Ecology from The University of Pennsylvania.

Unity College bills itself as a small private college that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates, according to the college’s press release, are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.