Office of the Dean

Valerio Ferme 
Valerio Ferme to lead NAU College of Arts and Letters

New dean poised to elevate arts and humanities in northern Arizona



Graduating students with flexible skills who are in tune with a diverse society will be foremost on Valerio Ferme’s mind as he assumes his role as Dean for the College of Arts and Letters at Northern Arizona University on July 3, 2017.

“The arts and humanities have been dissected under the microscope in recent years, and many politicians, parents, and students wonder what graduates can do with degrees from the College of Arts and Letters,” Ferme says. 

Goals for the future

Ferme will work to demonstrate how the skills gained through studying the arts and humanities prepare students to be smart citizens in a complex world.

“We need to take hold of the rhetoric that questions the value of degrees in the arts and humanities, and turn it on its head. We should be asking what value do our personal and working lives have without an appreciation of creativity and beauty in the world around us, and without an understanding of what makes us social beings that interact with each other in meaningful ways,” he says.

The new dean will begin by finding out what inspires people at the college and what stimulates faculty teaching and research. “I know the quality of our faculty is very high, and I want to be a promoter of our successes. At the same time, I see the College of Arts and Letters evolving into a place where faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to brainstorm and be transformational academically, professionally, and as agents of social change.”

More about the dean and his accomplishments


Growing up in a large family in Italy, Ferme says he was taught to look out for others. “I was given great opportunities to experience wonderful things in life. I want to give back some of what I received, and one can do that by devoting oneself to socially conscious change, when possible. I am inspired by great stories of perseverance and resilience, and by those who continue to try to make the world a better place. I hope that I do a little of that myself.”

Ferme most recently served as divisional dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he oversaw administrative functions for the Arts and Humanities division, including 14 departments, six research centers, and programs such as the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Anderson Language Technology Centers. He served six years as the Chair of the Department of French and Italian, with affiliations in Film Studies, the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Mediterranean Studies Group, and the Center for the Study of Origins.

He has occupied a number of other administrative roles, including membership on the campus-wide Steering Committee on Inclusive Excellence, the Research Innovation strategic group, and the chancellor’s focus group on Ethics. In 2014, he was awarded the Boulder Faculty Assembly Excellence in Teaching Award. He is currently serving a three-year term as President of the American Association of Italian Studies.

Ferme received his B.A.s in Biology and Religious Studies from Brown University; his M.A.s in Italian and in Comparative Literature from Indiana University (Bloomington); and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has published two single-authored and one co-authored books of criticism, one bilingual book of poetry and numerous other articles and reviews. 

CAL also encourages donors and friends to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence. This fund provides discretionary support through unrestricted gifts. The Dean’s Fund for Excellence allows Dean Valerio Ferme to designate financial support, as needed throughout the college.


Jean Boreen, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters


Jean Boreen

The Universe of Arts and Letters

The College of Arts and Letters (CAL) is the cultural connection at Northern Arizona University.

The college contains eight academic departments, encompassing philosophyhumanitiesreligionhistorylanguages, and English, as well as musictheatre, and the visual arts. CAL also houses and oversees the NAU Art Museum, the Martin-Springer Institute (promoting lessons of the Holocaust), Ardrey Memorial Auditorium and Ashurst Hall, and interdisciplinary minors such as Asian StudiesLatin American Studies, and Cinema Studies

In addition, the College of Arts and Letters provides over 350 events per academic year in the areas of fine arts, film, music, theatre, and internationally recognized speakers.

How You Can Support CAL 

Although NAU is a public institution, state support has been declining steadily. We rely on the generosity of the private sector, including our alumni, individual friends of our departments and programs, foundations and corporations to maintain our high standard of scholastic achievement.

The College of Arts and Letters has a number of funds representing all eight departments through the NAU Foundation.

Connect with CAL Today 

To learn more about how you can support CAL or to make a donation, please contact the Director of Development for the College of Arts and Letters at 928-523-6402. And thank you for your support!