february 12, 2003


OU Announces Selection of New Director of Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Ellen Censky

Ellen J. Censky, director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut, has been named the new director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma.

Censky will assume her new post May 1. She succeeds Michael Mares, who is stepping down after nearly 20 years as the director of the museum and its predecessor, the J. Willis Stovall Museum of Science and History.

Censky has served as director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History since 1998. An expert on amphibians and reptiles, she also is an adjunct associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut.

"We are very excited that Dr. Ellen Censky has accepted our invitation to become the new director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. She was the unanimous first choice of the search committee which reviewed an outstanding national pool of nominees," OU President David Boren said. "I know that she will continue the high standard of excellence set by our current director, Dr. Michael Mares. Dr. Censky is outstanding both as a scholar and as a museum director. Her previous experience at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and at the University of Connecticut coupled with her own personal dynamic leadership style will serve her well in this post."

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, one of the two largest natural history museums in the world associated with a university, opened the doors of its 198,000-square-foot, $44.5 million facility in May 2000. The museum, which contains more than 5 million artifacts, counts among its exhibits the largest Apatosaurus on display in the world and the oldest work of art ever found in North America - a lightning bolt painted on an extinct bison skull.

Noting the transformation that has taken place at the museum under Mares' direction, Censky said the museum is now one of the finest university museums in the world. "The challenge," she said, "will be to sustain the momentum."

Censky served as chairman of the division of life sciences at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh from 1996 to 1998. She also served that museum as head of the amphibians and reptiles section as well as the section's assistant curator and collection manager. From 1978 to 1979, Censky was a scientific technician of invertebrate zoology at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

A 1979 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Censky earned her doctoral degree in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. She is the co-author of a text titled Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, has authored or co-authored more than 35 scholarly articles, is a former section editor of the journal Herpetological Review and served three years on the editorial committee of the Journal of Herpetology. From 1992 to 1994, she served as a consultant to the government of Anguilla in the British West Indies in the area of environmental education.

Story Contact: OU Public Affairs