John W. Roberts Named Dean of UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

John W. Roberts, dean of arts and humanities and professor of English at Ohio State University, has been appointed dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at the University of Houston.

Roberts, whose research and teaching interests center around African-American folklore - especially its place in the history of American folklore scholarship - brings to CLASS a wealth of administrative experience and scholarly achievement. With disciplines ranging from art to theater, anthropology to sociology, and African American studies to women's studies, CLASS is the largest and most diverse of the 12 colleges at the University of Houston.

Roberts' appointment, effective July 1, was announced by John Antel, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at UH.

"John Roberts understands the challenges of program administration, teaching and scholarship," Antel said. "His stellar academic and administrative career, combined with his strong record of support for a diverse and global educational experience, matches the vision for a quality education that is central to our campus. I congratulate the search committee, chaired by Dr. Cynthia Freeland, for its excellent work."John Roberts 

Throughout his career, Roberts has been engaged in activities and initiatives designed to support an inclusive educational and work environment, establishing, for example, a faculty mentoring program at Ohio State designed to improve the retention of minority and women faculty in the arts and humanities. His commitment to providing faculty and students with global experiences is evident in an arts and humanities curriculum that includes the teaching of more than 35 languages and in his support for a large number of study abroad programs.

"As educators, we understand that as students enter the world beyond the university, they need conceptual skills and intellectual habits that will enable them to negotiate a future in which ever-changing technologies, advanced scientific understandings, unprecedented globalizing forces as well as environmental change and social reorientation will be the norm," Roberts said.

"In the traditional model of liberal arts education, we have always taken for granted that well-developed aesthetic sensibilities - the capacity to appreciate art, literature, drama and music - are intrinsically valuable. I believe fervently that as we move forward students who are able to combine these sensibilities with well-honed critical abilities and interpretive skills will be tomorrow's most effective information managers, purveyors of ideas and demystifiers of the ideologies borne in and of the age of technology."

Roberts joined Ohio State's faculty in 1996 as a professor of English. In 1998 he was appointed chair of the department of African-American and African Studies.

He took a leave of absence to spend two years as the deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. He returned to Ohio State in 2003, where he was appointed associate dean of the College of Humanities. A year later, he was appointed dean after a national search. This past June, the College of Arts was added to his portfolio following the university's decision to create a College of Arts and Sciences with three divisions, including the Arts and Humanities.

Roberts, who has served on numerous departmental, college and university committees, won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994-1995.

Before coming to Ohio State, Roberts taught at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a fellow of the American Folklore Society and served as the society's president from 1997 to 1999 and also as the president of the Association of African and African-American Folklorists from 1989 to 1997. He has served on several other prestigious national committees and boards, including the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the board of directors of the University of Pennsylvania Press, and the board of the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife and Cultural Studies programs.

Roberts holds a bachelor's degree in English from Tusculum College, a master's degree in English from Columbia University, and a doctorate in English from Ohio State.

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