Perspectives: Newsletter of the College of Arts & Sciences

Robert Stacey Named Interim Dean

When the UW Provost named Robert Stacey interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Stacey knew his new role would be challenging. Less challenging was the physical move to his new office in early January. He'd spent the past four years on the same hallway, as divisional dean of arts and humanities.

The role of administrator is nothing new to Stacey.  Since joining the UW faculty as an assistant professor of history in 1988, he has held numerous administrative posts. In addition to serving as divisional dean of arts and humanities, he is chair of the UW’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics and has been divisional dean of social sciences, chair of the Department of History, and chair of the Jewish Studies Program in the Jackson School of International Studies. He also has chaired the University Academic Council, co-chaired the Odegaard Writing and Research Center Board, and served on the Faculty Senate.

Robert Stacey
Robert Stacey, Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences. Photo by
Jacob Lambert.

Stacey’s scholarly work focuses on the history of Jews in medieval England. He suspects that his knowledge of medieval history informs his understanding of academic administration. “I’ve been thinking about how many of my friends who do medieval history have wound up in high administrative positions around the country,” he says. “Universities are medieval institutions—that’s where they have their origins—so in a sense the way they are structured might make more sense to a medievalist than to scholars of other fields.”

Yet Stacey is also well aware that today’s College of Arts and Sciences is very much a 21st -century institution and believes passionately that the liberal arts education provided by the College is needed now more than ever.

“The College does not merely give students a pre-professional education,” he says. “It provides a broad education in reading, writing, quantitative analysis, and critical dissection of arguments and ideas. Those skills are essential. Given that today’s graduates may change careers multiple times, their success is dependent on their ability to adapt to change.”

Stacey’s own education includes an undergraduate degree from Williams College (1975), a BA and MA from Oxford University (1977, 1982) and a PhD in history from Yale University (1983). He has published more than two dozen articles and four books, most recently Western Civilizations, 16th edition, for which he was responsible for the entirety of Volume I, covering western history through 1789.

"I've learned a lot from my previous administrative
experiences and I know I'm going to learn a lot as interim
dean," says Stacey. "Understanding how institutions work
is intellectually interesting to me."

 

 

 

 

 

After earning his PhD, Stacey taught at Yale University for four years, where he received a Distinguished Teaching Award. He was honored again for his teaching at the UW, receiving the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997. He also has been a popular speaker at the UW Alumni Association’s lecture series, most recently presenting the sold-out Winter 2011 series, titled “Medieval Origins of the Modern Western World.”

Stacey continues to advise undergraduate history majors on their senior essays, but he has not taught a regular course for the past few years. “I miss teaching, but I also enjoy the administrative part,” he explains. “I simply can’t do both.”  And administrative work is not entirely without its intellectual appeal.  “I’ve learned a lot from my previous administrative experiences and I know I’m going to learn a lot as interim dean,” says Stacey. “Understanding how institutions work is intellectually interesting to me.”

During Stacey’s tenure as interim dean, Betsy Cooper, chair of the Dance Program, will serve as interim divisional dean of the arts and Michael Shapiro, professor of Asian languages and literature, will serve as interim divisional dean of the humanities. A search for a permanent dean will take place during the upcoming year.

Return to Table of Contents, January 2012 issue