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
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.