University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

DiPiero aims to bring humanities to forefront in new post
By Sharon Dickman
Thomas DiPiero
Thomas DiPiero, professor of French and of visual and cultural studies, has been appointed to the newly established post of senior associate dean of humanities in the College. It’s a role that he says will let him cross boundaries and encourage more interdisciplinary ventures.
Thomas DiPiero, professor of French and of visual and cultural studies, is a self-described gadabout when it comes to diving across traditional academic boundaries. His new role as senior associate dean of humanities in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering will give him the leverage to draw people together for more interdisciplinary ventures.
“The creation of this position shows how much this administration wants to bring the humanities to the forefront. We want to showcase the kind of strengths we have in the humanities and to make them even stronger,” says DiPiero.
The University may be known more widely for its science departments and programs, he recognizes, but the humanities are robust and consistently an attraction for science and humanities majors alike. Many faculty in the humanities are nationally recognized experts in their fields, he notes, and they publish widely in some of the most influential venues in academia.
DiPiero says the flexibility of the Rochester Curriculum and its course clusters give students “so many options, and because of that it promotes greater study of the humanities and leads to a more well-rounded student.”
DiPiero has been part of several collaborative groups on campus recently and knows that a high percentage of incoming students gravitate toward music and performing arts—no matter what their major.
DiPiero will interact with departments in the College and with other units on supporting scholarship and programs within and outside the humanities.
“The humanities are an untapped resource here and I get to tap them,” says DiPiero, a member of the College faculty since 1987.
The six College humanities departments—art and art history, English, modern languages and cultures, music, philosophy, religion and classics—and the two humanistic social sciences—anthropology and history—are thrilled by the continuation of the Humanities Fund and the encouragement it represents, says DiPiero. The fund was created by President Seligman to support interdisciplinary work by Rochester faculty in philosophy, the arts, languages, and other fields.
“The kind of programs in this first year allowed us to think in a pan-humanistic spirit from the traditional to the cutting-edge. It made crossing boundaries possible,” he says.
A scholar of French literature and French cultural studies, DiPiero will teach one course each semester. He is the recipient of the College’s 2004 Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching, and was chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures from 1998 to 2004.
As an author, he wrote White Men Aren’t and Dangerous Truths and Criminal Passions: The Evolution of the French Novel 1569-1791, and was coeditor of Illicit Sex: Identity Politics in Early Modern Europe. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from Ohio State University, master’s degrees from Ohio State and Cornell universities, and his doctorate in Romance Studies from Cornell.
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