Meet Associate Dean Peter Whiting

Peter Whiting, associate dean for SAGES and professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, joined Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in 1991 and has served as associate dean for over 17 years.

Focused on geomorphology, surface water hydrology and environmental geology, Whiting came to CWRU with unique professional experience, having previously worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Forest Service. In what he considers a “valuable, brief detour” in consulting, Whiting helped answer important questions surrounding rivers in the United States, bringing together law and science to explain the country’s needs.

Yet, he knew he was always interested in teaching. During his time at Carleton College where he pursued his B.A. in geology, he loved working with his professors. 

“After I realized there was a job where I could work with students and do research—it was a goal of mine to become a professor,” he said. 

About 10 years after joining CWRU, Whiting had the opportunity to connect with students on a different level. From its inception, Whiting has either directed or co-directed the university’s SAGES program. When the program initially launched in 2003, it was Whiting and Associate Dean Lee Thompson who led the way. 

“I’m very proud to be associated with SAGES,” Whiting said. “The ability we’ve had to give students the tools needed to solidify their thinking, reading, writing and oral communications has built and refined their skills.”

In this role, Whiting is dedicated to making the student experience at Case Western Reserve the best it can possibly be. He navigates course offerings each semester, ensuring that the courses students need are available to them and he helps manage any challenges students face academically. 

“I’m an advocate for students when it seems that processes might not be working,” he said. “There are situations where students can get lost on the path, so I make sure they get the help and services they need to do the more exciting things.”

Get to know Peter Whiting more with these questions.

What’s your favorite thing about CWRU/Cleveland?
I truly enjoy working with the college’s students, colleagues, faculty and staff. The people I interact with are great and work hard for the greater success of our students, the college and our institution, which also extends to being good citizens of Cleveland and the surrounding areas.

I feel blessed to have made Cleveland my home for 30 years. Life is easy here in so many respects. Having lived on both coasts and overseas, people in Cleveland tend to forget that we have so many of the amenities that other, noteworthy locations have, without all of the challenges that accompany a bigger city.

What do you do in your free time? What’re your hobbies? 
I spend a lot of my time with my family. I like to be outdoors, perhaps not a surprise for a geologist. I take long bike rides each week. Even in the winters, I pray for lots of snow because I skate ski cross country. I also tinker around in my yard. My daughter and I recently built a raised bed vegetable garden that is very abundant! 

What’s the last book you read?
My last book was a New York Times suggested summer read, The Interestings, and that is exactly what it was. For the last few years, I’ve been reading my way through the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners. I am haunted by Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Are you a morning person or night person?
I’m usually sending emails by 6 a.m., but I have to get my seven hours of sleep. I am up early and I often joke that to do things well, I have to do them by 10 a.m. I am my most alert and clever in the morning.