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By Michele Ralston
A new leader will take the helm of the University of Cincinnati’s largest college, effective July 1. Kristi A. Nelson, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, has appointed Valerio C. Ferme, Ph.D., dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, pending approval by the UC Board of Trustees.
Ferme currently serves as dean of the College of Arts and Letters and global languages and culture professor at Northern Arizona University. Before that, he spent nearly 19 years at the University of Colorado Boulder. During his tenure there, he held several administrative positions, including department chair and divisional dean. He joined Colorado Boulder in 1998 as assistant professor of Italian, comparative literature and film, and was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and professor in 2015.
“Valerio’s design thinking approach to the research and pedagogical challenges faced by institutions within higher education will be a tremendous asset in guiding the future of UC’s College of Arts and Sciences as we implement our strategic direction, Next Lives Here,” said Nelson. “I am delighted to welcome Valerio to the Bearcat family. His ability to think boldly and tap diverse perspectives will bring tremendous value to the college and our university community.”
The university launched Next Lives Here, in February 2018 to propel UC through the next decade and lead urban public universities into a new era of innovation and impact.
Throughout Ferme’s academic and administrative career he has successfully navigated budget challenges, increased diversity of faculty and students, and emphasized community engagement and innovation in learning.
“I firmly believe that degrees in the traditional fields of arts, social, and natural sciences are great in preparing our students to be lifelong, creative thinkers who more easily adapt to challenges in today’s rapidly changing world, where many jobs are still being created that do not exist today,” Ferme said. “I am very excited to join the University of Cincinnati and work collaboratively with faculty and staff in the college, as well as community representatives, to enrich the human experience of our students and provide the real-world opportunities they need to thrive.”
During his decanal role at Northern Arizona University, Ferme led a strategic revision, encouraged faculty grant application growth, enhanced communication at all levels of the college and created new scholarships for underrepresented students, as well as professional development opportunities for staff.
Additionally, Ferme created committees focused on innovation in community engagement, policies to reimagine curricula offerings and to identify areas of potential societal impact for the college.
At Colorado Boulder, he established an endowed scholarship fund to support high-achieving students in the Italian and Women and Gender Studies departments.
Valerio’s design thinking approach to the research and pedagogical challenges faced by institutions within higher education will be a tremendous asset in guiding the future of UC’s College of Arts and Sciences as we implement our strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Ferme most recently completed a term as president of the American Association for Italian Studies. The author of three books, five co-edited and co-translated volumes and multiple essays, Ferme was the recipient of the Boulder Faculty Assembly Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Colorado, as well as of special recognition from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement for his work on behalf of staff and underrepresented groups.
Ferme earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and religious studies from Brown University, master’s degrees in Italian studies and comparative literature from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley.
The McMicken College of Arts and Sciences is the University of Cincinnati’s largest and most diverse college, providing a liberal arts education to more than 7,500 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. Since its beginnings in 1819, the College of Arts and Sciences has grown to become the mainstay of an urban, thriving Research 1 university with more than 400 faculty, offering 70+ degree programs in natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities.