Search underway for dean of the College of the Liberal Arts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has launched a national search for the next dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. Douglas Cavener, dean of Penn State’s Eberly College of Science, is chairing the search committee.

Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and professor of political science, will step down as dean on June 30. Welch, who has served as dean of the college since 1991, is one of the longest-serving deans in Penn State history.

“Penn State seeks a dean for the College of the Liberal Arts who will build on Susan’s accomplishments and advance the college’s commitments to excellence in teaching, research and service,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost of the University. “This individual will continue to press for national leadership in the college’s academic departments, support its centers and institutes that reach across disciplinary boundaries, and ensure its undergraduate and graduate students continue to have world-class educational experiences.”

Reporting directly to the executive vice president and provost of the University, the dean serves as the principal academic and administrative officer of the college. The dean holds the Susan Welch Dean’s Chair and is known as the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. The dean’s chair was named in honor of Welch with an endowment gift of $5 million in 2010.

The college provides instruction and research opportunities in more than 20 departments and schools that span the humanities, social sciences and life sciences. Many of the departments are ranked among the top 10 nationally, according to the latest National Research Council rankings, and several research centers and institutes enhance the college’s teaching, research and outreach missions. College centers support research ranging from ethics to cognitive neuroscience, from the Civil War to human evolution, and from the bilingual brain to counterterrorism.

Founded in 1909, the College of the Liberal Arts has approximately 6,000 undergraduate and 850 graduate students enrolled in residence, with an additional 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in online certificate and degree programs delivered through Penn State World Campus. The college has more than 700 full-time faculty members, about half of whom are on the tenure track, including many who are recognized leaders in their fields.

Those interested in applying for the position should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae and contact information for four references via the University’s employment website at Questions should be addressed to Douglas Cavener, search committee chair, and sent to The search committee will review applications and nominations beginning Feb. 1, and will continue to receive them until the position is filled. For more information about the College of the Liberal Arts, visit

Members of the search committee are:

  • Brendan Bernicker, undergraduate student, political science, and Paterno Fellow
  • Kathy Bieschke, vice provost for faculty affairs
  • D’Angelo Bridges, graduate student, English; African American and diaspora studies
  • Douglas Cavener, search committee chair; dean, Eberly College of Science
  • John Christman, professor of philosophy, political science, and women’s studies; director, Humanities Institute
  • Tina Hennessey, executive director, Office of Development
  • Ronnie Hsia, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History
  • Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology
  • Carrie Jackson, associate professor of German and linguistics
  • Nicola Kiver, director of administrative operations, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Avis Kunz, assistant dean, online education and outreach, Filippelli Institute
  • Robert Marshall, distinguished professor of economics
  • Heather McCoy, teaching professor of French and Francophone studies, director of undergraduate studies
  • Shirley Moody, associate professor of English and African American studies; director of undergraduate studies, English
  • Denise Solomon, Liberal Arts Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and head of the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • José Soto, associate professor of psychology
  • Melissa Wright, professor, Department of Geography; head of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Chris Zorn, Liberal Arts Professor of Political Science
Last Updated January 24, 2018