Purdue News

May 16, 2006

History professor named dean of College of Liberal Arts

John Contreni
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — John Contreni, professor of history and dean of the Graduate School, has been named dean of Purdue University's College of Liberal Arts.

The appointment, effective June 15, was announced today (Tuesday, May 16) by Provost Sally Mason. Contreni's appointment is subject to approval by Purdue's Board of Trustees.

"The liberal arts provide an important component of every student's education because these disciplines prepare a person for a lifetime of learning," Mason said. "John Contreni, as the college's new dean, will provide experienced leadership as liberal arts continues to build excellence in learning and discovery across their many and varied disciplines.

"Professor Contreni is highly regarded in his field as one of the great scholars on Charlemagne and Carolingian Europe. Purdue also has benefited from his service as dean of the Graduate School, as a department head and as an associate dean. We look forward to the vision and direction he will provide the College of Liberal Arts."

"The search committee had three highly qualified candidates from within the college to chose from, and we thank everyone who attended the public forums and provided feedback on each of the candidates," said Jeffrey Vitter, dean of the College of Science and chair of the search committee.

Contreni became dean of the Graduate School in 2004. He served as interim dean from 2002-04.

"While serving as dean of the Graduate School, I saw firsthand how extraordinary the liberal arts faculty, staff and students are on this campus," Contreni said. "The college's faculty and students play a central role in the university, and the arts, humanities and social sciences they study address the fundamental issues in contemporary society."

Contreni was head of the Department of History from 1985-97 and interim head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in 1983-85. From 1981-85, he served as assistant dean for the School of Humanities, Social Science and Education, which is now the College of Liberal Arts. He has been at Purdue since 1971, and he earned his doctorate and master's degrees from Michigan State University in 1971 and 1968, respectively. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., in 1966.

Thomas Adler is currently serving as interim dean of the college. He will return to teaching full time July 1.

Mason said an interim dean of the Graduate School will be appointed, and a national search will begin soon.

With more than 6,100 undergraduate and 1,100 graduate students at Purdue's West Lafayette campus, the College of Liberal Arts is one of Purdue's largest. The college encompasses 11 academic departments: communication; English; foreign languages and literatures; health and kinesiology; history; philosophy; political science; psychological sciences; sociology and anthropology; speech, language, and hearing sciences; and visual and performing arts.

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences is ranked nationally for its graduate programs. The Department of Communication also is recognized nationally for its organizational, health and interpersonal areas of study.

The College of Liberal Arts is home to 13 interdisciplinary programs: African-American studies, American studies, Asian studies, classical studies, comparative literature, film studies, Italian studies, Jewish studies, linguistics, medieval studies, philosophy and literature, religious studies, and women's studies. The College of Liberal Arts has more than 48,000 living alumni.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Sally Mason, (765) 494-9709, sfmason@purdue.edu

Jeffrey Vitter, (765) 494-1730, jsv@purdue.edu

John Contreni, (765) 494-2604, contreni@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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