Lawrence R. Rodgers, an associate dean at Kansas State University with a track record of liberal arts advocacy, fundraising, and creating new learning opportunities for students, has been named dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.
He will begin his new position on Sept. 8, succeeding Larry Roper, who has held the position on an interim basis since May of 2007. Roper will return to full-time duties as OSU’s vice provost for student affairs.
Rodgers has been associate dean of Kansas State’s College of Arts and Sciences since 2002, and a member of its faculty since 1989. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he went to Kansas State as an assistant professor of English and was named head of the department in 1995, a position he held until becoming associate dean in 2002.
He has been a campus leader at Kansas State on many initiatives, including establishing a first-year experience program, creating a new university-wide strategic plan, revamping the honors program, and chairing the international activity council.
“The depth of those experiences – both as an administrator and a campus leader – make Larry Rodgers ideally suited to lead the OSU College of Liberal Arts,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “His vision of the importance of a strong liberal arts program at a Land Grant institution is consistent with our own at Oregon State, and he has the experience to help us realize that vision.”
As dean of the OSU College of Liberal Arts, Rodgers will oversee an academic unit that has more than 200 faculty members in 13 departments. More than 3,000 students pursue one of the 19 majors offered by the college, which also has an international degree and certificate programs.
Sabah Randhawa, OSU’s provost and executive vice president, said the College of Liberal Arts plays a pivotal role in providing critical thinking and communication skills to all undergraduate students at OSU. The university envisions a more prominent role for the college in graduate education – growth that will require private, foundation and corporate fundraising.
“The College of Liberal Arts will play an increasingly important role in addressing current and emerging issues of importance to the state of Oregon and beyond,” Randhawa said. “Certainly undergraduate and graduate education will be at the forefront of its mission. But Larry Rodgers also will provide the leadership that commits the college to critical research, scholarship and outreach efforts that will make it even more relevant.”
Rodgers was trained as a scholar of American ethnic and minority literature and his teaching and writing often has centered on multicultural and regional themes. This focus has resulted in courses, books and scholarship about people and places “that have traditionally been conceived of as marginal and marginalized,” he said.
The new OSU dean says he looks forward to working with faculty, staff and students in the College of Liberal Arts and collaborating with others on campus. He will be a strong advocate for liberal arts, Rodgers added, which he considers to be the crucial foundation of every OSU student’s academic experience.
“Liberal arts provides the fundamental disciplines teaching students critical thinking, collaboration, written and oral communication, ethics, citizenship, an awareness of place, and an appreciation not just for the value of diversity as a social good, but also as the best means of thinking intelligently and subtly about the complexities of the contemporary world.”
Rodgers’ wife, Susan Jackson Rodgers, will join the OSU Department of English as an associate professor in the widely recognized Creative Writing Program. An accomplished author and educator, she has published an award-winning collection of stories, “The Trouble with You Is,” as well as fiction in numerous distinguished literary journals, including the New England Review, Prairie Schooner and North American Review.