Ford to lead College of Arts and Sciences

With more than 9,000 students across 22 academic disciplines, the College of Arts and Sciences is larger than most universities in the state. Lacy Ford, who will take over as dean of the college in July, sees that size and diversity as opportunity.

“It’s a great privilege to be entrusted with the leadership of this college,” he said. “The College of Arts and Sciences lives at the academic and intellectual core of the university.”

He would know, since his work with the college spans decades.

Ford, a renowned scholar of Southern history, received his degrees at the University of South Carolina and first began teaching here as an assistant professor in 1984. He eventually became chair of the history department in 2007, a position he held for several years before leaving the college to join the provost’s office as senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. He is a two-time National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow and the author of several books examining early 19th- and 20th-century Southern history, including “Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South.”  

In announcing his appointment Monday, Provost Joan Gabel called Ford a creative administrator who works tirelessly to advance the interest of students and faculty alike. During his tenure in the provost’s office, Ford spearheaded the Pipeline for Academic Leadership Program, which works across campus to help prepare faculty for leadership roles within their institutions.

Ford’s work with the Graduate School includes improving curriculum for nontraditional students through the Distributed Learning Program and championing the Presidential Fellows Program, which has brought scores of elite graduate students to the university. He says those experiences will help him as he works with colleagues and students at Arts and Sciences. 

“I do feel like I’m coming home in some ways,” he said of his return to the college. “There have certainly been a lot of changes at the college in the six years that I’ve been with the provost’s office, but I think the learning curve should be a little shorter and flatter for me.”

Ford said his priorities as dean include fostering research opportunities, especially those that allow for interdisciplinary collaboration, and helping to identify new ways to teach students.

“The larger public evaluates us on teaching excellence. I would like to continue to innovate instruction and make sure we’re doing everything possible to make sure our students learn what they need to know to be successful.”

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