As the permanent dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of English Michael A. Elliott will look to ensure that Emory is a leader in the liberal arts and partner the College with the rest of the University.
Elliott’s appointment was announced in a May 31 University statement. He has served as the interim College dean since August 2016, following the departure of former College Dean Robin Forman, who left Emory to become senior vice president and provost of Tulane University (La.).
“[I] want Emory to be a leader in the national conversation about the importance of the liberal arts in sciences,” Elliott said in an interview with the Wheel. “We are going to be even more deliberate in talking with students and others about the value of a liberal arts education — how it can translate into a meaningful life, a meaningful work, different career opportunities.”
He pointed to the relatively new Quantitative Theory and Methods (QTM) department, established in 2014, which integrates statistics and math with traditional liberal arts topics such as history and English. The department’s success in defining the next steps for liberal arts is evident, as Dartmouth College (N.H.) and Vanderbilt University (Tenn.) have created similar programs, Elliott said.
QTM was developed through a long discussion among the social sciences faculty, but Elliott said he does not have any plans to expand or create any new College programs at this time. Though he will “constantly be listening for new ideas,” the new dean will focus on building current departments and “increasing their prominence in their research.”
At the College dean search forum he hosted in April, Elliott mentioned making Goizueta Business School classes more accessible to College students.
“I think the College will be most successful when it’s partnering with the rest of the University, and for students that means really integrating the undergraduate experience across multiple schools,” Elliott said.
During his term as interim dean, Elliott learned that alumni and parents have “very ambitious” goals for the university. To achieve those goals, Elliott said he hopes to improve the infrastructure that allows students to participate in research by growing the size of research programs, fundraising and creating an online system to match researchers with students.
“Michael Elliott is an exceptional and respected leader with a clear, ambitious vision for the teaching and research mission of Emory College, and its essential role in the success of Emory as a leading liberal arts research university,” University President Claire E. Sterk said in a statement.
The Emory College Dean Search Advisory Committee announced that they had narrowed the search down to four finalists and held open forums for each of the candidates Spring 2017. In his forum, Elliott had said he has increased faculty diversity during his term as interim College dean, recruiting three new professors in the natural sciences and extending a job offer to a fourth. He also had added, that if chosen as dean, he planned to review Emory’s practices, such as the pre-major advising system and the pathway for Business School students.
Elliott joined Emory’s faculty in 1998 as a professor of English and American studies, and then served as senior associate dean for faculty from 2009 to 2014 and as executive associate dean from 2014 to 2015.
Elliott will officially begin his tenure July 1 alongside Emory’s newly appointed provost and executive vice president for academic affairs Dwight McBride.
“I’m thrilled to partner with Michael as the new Emory College dean,” McBride said in a statement. “Out of a strong and highly competitive national pool of candidates, Michael stood out for his deep understanding of the needs and ambitions of Emory College, his unwavering dedication to the power of liberal education in the arts and sciences and his commitment to fostering an inclusive learning environment.”