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Search almost over for Dean of Humanities

April 7, 2004

Lindsay Jacobs

John W. Roberts, the associate dean of the College of Humanities, has been recommended to President Karen A. Holbrook to become the college’s new dean. If Holbrook chooses to accept search committee’s recommendation, Roberts will assume the responsibilities of dean on June 1.

The search for a new dean initially began in September 2003, after former dean Michael Hogan stepped down in June to become the executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

There was a nationwide search for a new dean, but eventually the search committee – made up of professors, department chairs, a graduate student and an undergraduate student – came back home to Ohio State to extend their offer to Roberts.

“Dr. Roberts has broad administrative experience and excellent scholarly credentials,” said Joan Herbers, the chair of the search committee and dean of the College of Biological Sciences.

“When he was interviewed, he showed that he has vision for the future of humanities that will serve the college well.”

Since coming to OSU eight years ago as an English professor, Roberts has worked his way up the administrative ladder. In addition to his position as associate dean, he has served as the department chairman of African-American and African studies.

Before taking the position of associate dean, Roberts took a two-year leave of absence to serve as the deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under the Clinton administration.

“My job in Washington was basically to run a federal organization, and that was very informative. It helped me appreciate administration at a whole new level,” Roberts said.

Roberts’ credentials are filled with experience in Washington.

“The NEH is a leading source of research and programmatic funds for the humanities, and (Roberts’) understanding of how the organization works will be of tremendous value to the faculty, staff and students of the college,” Herbers said.

Roberts spent 14 years prior to coming to OSU at the University of Pennsylvania, where approximately half of his time was spent fulfilling administrative duties.

“I have spent a lot of time in administration. I felt it was time to move on to the next level,” Roberts said.

Many students in the College of Humanities are pleased with the committee’s choice for the new dean.

“I have heard that Dr. Roberts is a very approachable man with a good attitude,” said Stephanie Creamer, a senior in Spanish. “It will be nice for humanities students to have a leader who is intelligent as well as friendly, and I have heard that he is capable of getting the job done.”

Roberts is hoping he will bring a voice of experience to the position not only to “maintain the level of excellence,” but also to raise the bar for the College of Humanities.

As dean, Roberts would like to increase the students’ relationship with the college as a whole, not only within their majors.

“The students need to be able to identify with the college,” Roberts said.

In order for this to happen, Roberts said he feels that every department in the college needs to work together to unite the students of different majors.

“The College of Humanities is the largest in the university. We should use our size to our advantage,” Roberts said.

He plans to work with the channels available to him and his staff to inform students of events accessible to them. Roberts hopes organizations such as the Dean’s Student Advisory Group will work to get students involved. With events like Career Night and Fireside Chats, students will be able to look past life in college.

“I am excited about the possibilities,” Roberts said.


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