(7-16-98) -- College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ, who has overseen the University's largest undergraduate school for 10 years, has announced that he will step down at the end of the 1998-99 academic year.
In a letter to A&S administrators and faculty, Fr. Barth said he had reached the decision in consultation with University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. The timetable will allow him to work with incoming AVP David R. Burgess, he said, "and to prepare to turn over the reins to my successor." Following a sabbatical during the 1999-2000 academic year, Fr. Barth said he will join the English Department faculty.
Fr. Barth said he was "very proud of all we have accomplished together during the past 10 years and I shall leave the position with a great sense of satisfaction." One of his greatest joys as dean, he said, "has been working with our remarkable faculty and staff."
In an interview, Fr. Barth said, "This decision was a convergence of several things. It's going to work out just fine and I feel very good about this transition. I am looking forward to getting back to teaching and research."
"I want to congratulate Fr. Barth on his decade of generous service as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences," said Fr. Neenan.
"His distinguished academic career prior to Boston College found fulfillment especially in his interest in, and sponsorship of, the cultural and artistic life at the University," added Fr. Neenan, citing the establishment of the Music Department and increased visibility of arts-related scholarship and activity on campus. "For this, he will be long remembered and appreciated."
Fr. Neenan said plans for finding a new A&S dean will be announced shortly. Among the major priorities he will pursue during his final year as dean, Fr. Barth said he will continue formulating a proposal for an undergraduate advising center, and "build upon the progress we've made in our faculty hiring, especially AHANA faculty." He noted that almost half of the A&S faculty hired this year are AHANA.
Highly regarded for his expertise in the works of literary figures such as Samuel Coleridge and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Fr. Barth first came to Boston College as the Thomas I. Gasson Professor for the 1985-86 academic year. At the time of his appointment as A&S dean, he was a professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he had taught since 1974 and, from 1979-82, served as Catherine Paine Middlebush Professor. He also has taught English at Harvard University and Canisius College.
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