New dean chosen for liberal arts school

03/14/2019

Olivia Donia | staff Writer

The McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts has announced the appointment of Kristine Blair as the new dean beginning in July of this year.

James Swindal, the current dean of the Liberal Arts school, is stepping down after eight years in the role, and Blair, who is the current dean at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Youngstown State University, will take his place.

Prior to coming to Duquesne, Blair has not only served as the dean at Youngstown State, but has also chaired the English department at Bowling Green State University.

“As a faculty member, I understand the challenges other faculty typically face in balancing teaching, scholarship and service, and the need to develop and maintain support structures that foster faculty success in the classroom and beyond,” Blair said. “And as a former department chair and a current college dean, I strongly believe a major part of academic administration is the advocacy role we play for our departments and programs.”

For Blair, one of her main focal points as a professor and administrator is focusing on keeping the liberal arts relevant in a modern job market. In particular, although her primary background is in English and journalism, Blair has written extensively about the impact of technology on research and teaching of liberal arts.

“Writing and reading have always been technological processes; it’s just that those technologies have evolved throughout history, changing what it means to be a literate citizen in the 21st century,” Blair said. “It’s not that we’re not writing or not reading; it’s that those processes have been migrated and transformed in a digital age through these new technologies that mandate that citizens be not just functionally literate, but critically, rhetorically and ethically literate as well.”

This mindset relates to Dean Swindal’s work in the the Liberal Arts department, which has, during his tenure, focused increasingly on applying the liberal arts to post-graduation plans.

“We’re focused more on establishing and promoting internships in order to work within the new University Strategic plan to develop career formation,” Swindal said.

Blair recognizes that post-graduation success is not a set formula, but a combination of skills.

“While there is a presumed distinction between practical skills and what has been termed the ‘soft skills’ of the liberal arts, I prefer to view such skills as not only necessary but essential to both academic and professional success,” Blair said. “Such success in the workplace requires the ability to problem-solve, to engage in ethical and moral reasoning and decision-making … to listen carefully and communicate clearly, and to conduct research and synthesize the vast amount of information and knowledge we encounter daily.”

Blair will begin her tenure as dean of the Liberal Arts school on July 1, and she is looking forward to it.

“Duquesne University’s Spiritan mission, with its commitment to excellence, emphasis on community engagement, and respect for diversity and human dignity within and across cultures, is aligned with the liberal arts in ways that make the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts a key partner in promoting that mission on and off campus … I am honored to being joining and leading a community of outstanding scholar-teachers dedicated to these goals,” Blair said.

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