Katherine Black named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Katherine Black has been appointed as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, effective on November 1st.

Black joined the University in 1998 as an Assistant Professor in the Psychology department, teaching for six years. She then became the Assistant Provost, working with former Provost Donna Randall.

As Assistant Provost, she mainly dealt with faculty development, which included helping faculty do their teaching and research. After serving as Assistant Provost, Black returned to the Psychology department, serving as the chair for that department.

While serving as the chair of the Psychology department, Black oversaw the merger of the Psychology department, which included the undergraduate and the Masters programs, with the Doctoral Program in Psychology.

After serving as chair of the Psychology department for four years, Black became an Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, where her duties focused on finances, the budget, and allocating resources.

In December 2013, Joseph Voelker, who served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for over a decade, decided to step down and Black was named interim dean to help out during the transition between two deans. With much support from faculty and staff, Provost Shannon Vasquez offered Black the permanent position as dean.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Black, who went on to praise her colleagues. “One of the things that I love about this place is the community of people that I work with, who are all very committed to the institution, but also very committed to the students, and student learning, and student success. I get an opportunity every day to work with people who are doing good things for students.”

As dean, Black said that her job will involve “overseeing the entire college, all of the courses that we offer… both in general education, as well as all of our majors, overseeing all of the student’s support for those majors… and overseeing the faculty and staff who work with students… My job is to support the work being done with students. Whether that’s providing faculty development to our teachers so that they can improve their skills or enhance their teaching, or if that is to provide experiences for students, additional experiences beyond the classroom.”

Black intends to “push [the college] to the next level” and has many plans to do so, one being the plan to increase the number of “high impact practices,” which Black describes as “classroom activities that have been shown to engage students, retain them, and help them being successful.”

“High impact practices” include activities such as First Year Seminars, Residential Learning Communities, Internships, Study Abroad, and Undergraduate Research.

Another initiative that is currently underway is providing more career preparation to students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“When you’re in some of the other colleges like Business and Engineering, the pathway between your major and a career is a little more straight and direct,” says Black. “But a liberal arts major is a little more fuzzy. What we’re trying to do is provide our students to more direct pathways to careers.”

President Walter Harrison and Provost Vasquez will formally introduce Black to the campus community in her new role on Monday, November3rd. The event will take place at 4 p.m. in Wilde Auditorium. All faculty, staff and students are welcomed to attend.