COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has appointed Bonnie Thornton Dill dean of one of its largest colleges, Arts and Humanities.
Dill, long-time chair of women’s studies, is expected to serve until June 30, 2013. She is the first woman to hold the post, and succeeds James Harris, who is stepping down after 14 years as dean. Dill’s term begins August 1.
Internationally known for her cross-cutting scholarship on race and gender, Black and Latina women in higher education, as well as issues such as work, family and poverty, Dill has led women’s studies at Maryland to national prominence – it is one of a select few universities in the United States to offer a doctoral degree in the field; it serves as the base for the National Women’s Studies Association and editorial home of the pioneering journal, Feminist Studies.
Courses on women and gender are now regularly offered by 26 departments and programs throughout the university.
Dill has spent two decades in the department, first as professor and later as chair. She is also the founding director of the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity at Maryland, which promotes “intersectional” research. Her scholarship includes three books, most recently, Emerging Intersections: Race, Class, and Gender in Theory, Policy and Practice (2009), and numerous articles.
“Bonnie’s scholarly life has been defined by intersections and cross-disciplinary work – excellent preparation for the challenges of leading such a diverse college as Arts and Humanities,” says Senior Vice President and Provost Ann G. Wylie, on announcing the appointment. “Under her leadership, our women’s studies program has grown in both size and stature. She is a pioneer in her field, and a number of colleagues in the college recommended her highly. President Loh and I are confident that she will bring further distinction to the invaluable work of the College of Arts and Humanities.”
Professor Dill is recognized as an outstanding teacher and mentor, having received both the Jessie Bernard Award and the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, given by the American Sociological Association, and the University System of Maryland Regents’ Faculty Award for Mentoring.
Dill is also active in her profession. She currently serves as president of the National Women’s Studies Association and the chair of the advisory board of scholars for Ms. Magazine. Formerly, she served as vice president of the American Sociological Association.
“Bonnie exemplifies the kind of educational innovation, as well as the interdisciplinary collaboration that marks our leadership team,” says University President Wallace Loh, who is currently accompanying Gov. O’Malley on a trade mission to China. “More than ever, we must stress diversity and inclusiveness as the path to global educational excellence. Bonnie’s outstanding accomplishments and talents will make a major contribution to this effort.”
Dill promises to be a strong advocate for the arts and humanities, for the college’s diverse programs, and to enhance the university’s reputation as a leader in “inclusive excellence” on matters of diversity and equity.
“We must promote an understanding of how essential arts and humanities disciplines are to human progress,” Dill says. “Without education and research in these fields, we’ll fail to learn from society’s successes and its failures. I’ll be a strong voice for the importance of our College’s work in our rapidly changing world and in service to the State of Maryland.”
Dill points, for example, to the College’s ongoing mission of educating “global citizens who think creatively” about the challenges of the 21st century. “Our graduates are the measure of our success,” she adds. “The yardstick is their ability to think critically, boldly and imaginatively.”
GROWTH OF ARTS AND HUMANITIES AT MARYLAND
During his 14-year tenure as dean, James Harris significantly raised the College’s profile, describing it as “a wonderful period of growth,” last fall, when he announced plans to step down.
“I congratulate Bonnie for agreeing to take this critical leadership position and wish her the best of luck,” says Harris. “I will, of course, support her fully.”
Harris will leave his post at the end of June, and Dill will begin in August. “Dr. Juan Uriagereka, associate provost for faculty affairs and professor of linguistics, has graciously agreed to serve as interim dean for the month of July,” Wylie says in an announcement.
Wylie adds that a search will commence in fall 2012 for the next Arts and Humanities dean to serve at the conclusion of Dill’s term in 2013.
Dill is a graduate of New York University, where she received her M.A (1970) and Ph.D. (1979). She also received her B.A. from the University of Rochester (1965). Dill taught at the University of Memphis, and then came to Maryland as a professor in the Women’s Studies Department in 1991, where she currently serves as chair.