Robert D. Aguirre named dean of JMU College of Arts and Letters

Robert D. AguirreRobert D. Aguirre, currently senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, will serve as the next dean of the College of Arts and Letters at James Madison University, effective July 16.

Dr. Aguirre brings to the job more than 28 years of experience as a liberal arts educator, specifically in literary and cultural studies, and has worked in academic administration at WSU for the past decade. For the past six years, he has helped steer the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the largest of WSU’s colleges, which offers nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate programs across the sciences, humanities and social sciences.

“I am delighted to welcome Robert Aguirre to JMU. Robert brings a keen understanding of the interwoven links between student success, faculty engagement and community collaboration,” said Heather Coltman, JMU’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “A recognized scholar, he brings an exciting set of ideas to the already very distinguished College of Arts and Letters—ideas that will enrich discussions across Academic Affairs and the university as a whole.”

As associate dean, Dr. Aguirre partnered with colleagues to support humanities research, assisted the dean in securing financial support for the college, and led efforts to recognize and celebrate excellence in the classroom and in undergraduate research. Additionally, he worked to make WSU, the most diverse university in Michigan, a more welcoming place for all students and faculty, and helped substantially increase enrollment and graduation rates among diverse student populations.

“I feel privileged to join the JMU community at this exciting time,” said Aguirre. “The faculty here combine high academic accomplishment with a strong commitment to excellence in the classroom. As dean of the College of Arts and Letters, I look forward to working closely with faculty and staff to raise the visibility of the college, to build and renew our common intellectual life, and to offer the highest quality instruction for our students. I am pleased and honored to take up this important role.”

Dr. Aguirre’s cross-disciplinary research integrates literary studies, history, anthropology, Latin American studies and visual culture. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University in English and American Literature and Language.


Have a story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected] Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.