New leaders appointed in six college areas
When classes resume this fall, the College of Liberal Arts will have new leaders at the helm of five of its 12 departments and one interdisciplinary program. New appointments have been announced for Africana Studies, Anthropology, International Studies, Performance Studies, Philosophy, and Psychology.
Violet Johnson has been named the Director of Africana Studies, one of the college’s five interdisciplinary programs, and Professor of History. Johnson came to Texas A&M earlier this month from Agnes Scott College. Her scholarly interests include the history of race, ethnicity and immigration in the United States, African-American history, African history, and the African Diaspora.
“I am pleased and impressed with the foundation that has already been laid for the Africana Studies Program here at Texas A&M. With a talented and dedicated faculty and an exciting curriculum, the program is poised for further growth,” said Johnson.
“One of my primary goals is to strongly support the teaching and scholarship of the joint appointment core faculty who are the anchor of the program. I hope to lead the efforts in seeking and developing distinguishing features that will make Africana Studies at Texas A&M competitive and exemplary in a burgeoning arena of departments and programs around the country devoted to the study of the diverse experiences of peoples of African descent.”
Johnson also looks forward to working on initiatives that would allow students and faculty to benefit from exchanges with transnational and international groups and institutions within Texas and the United States as well as in Africa and diaspora communities. She plans to work with student groups to acquaint them with the program and discuss how Africana Studies can be a valuable part of their liberal arts educational experience.
Cynthia Werner is taking the role of department head in the Department of Anthropology, following a year-long term as Interim Department Head.
“As department head, one of my goals is to do everything I can to facilitate the success of the anthropology department, and to acknowledge individual achievements through our new website and newsletter,” said Werner.
Werner also hopes to improve the graduate program and expand the undergraduate program through courses that develop practical skills, department-sponsored events that feature practicing anthropologists, and the development of an alumni network.
Robert Shandley will head the new Department of International Studies. Shandley is a professor of German and Film Studies.
“My goal is to make the department central to the college and university internationalization efforts,” said Shandley. “This will include expanding our study abroad presence, fostering international scholarly collaboration, and renewing our commitment to foreign language acquisition.”
Harris Berger will head the Department of Performance Studies after serving as Associate Department Head for the past seven years under Judith Hamera. Berger will lead the department as it transitions into its new home, the Arts and Humanities Building, which is slated to open this fall.
An authority in the fields of ethnomusicology, folklore studies, popular music studies, and performance studies, Dr. Berger currently serves as the president for the Society of Ethnomusicology (SEM) and is an advisory board member for the Journal of Musicology.
“As head, I seek to build on the momentum currently in the department, including the continued development of our undergraduate programs, our new graduate program, and the opportunities afforded by the soon-to-be completed Liberal Arts Arts and Humanities Building,” said Berger, who also plans to continue to encourage faculty and students to engage in interdisciplinary efforts.
Gary Varner will head the Department of Philosophy, following a successful year as Interim Department Head. Under his guidance, the department has continued its path of excellence in scholarship and research.
“During my three-year term as head, I plan to work with our faculty to further enhance our undergraduate teaching through the addition of a department-specific honors program while maintaining and enhancing our faculty's diverse research programs," said Varner.
Paul Wellman, who specializes in behavioral and cellular neuroscience, will head the Department of Psychology.
“The Department of Psychology is seeking a permanent head through an external search that we expect to have in place by June 2013. My overarching goal is to facilitate the search for the new permanent head,” said Wellman. “I hope to use my previous experience as department head (from 1992-2002) to facilitate the research and grant activities of the department as well as our teaching and service activities.”