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New Dean of UNH College of Arts and Sciences Looks to Expand, Strengthen Programs

Release Date:
2/10/2012 8:59 PM
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University of New Haven: Lourdes Maria Alvarez, features Lourdes Maria Alvarez

Feb. 10, 2012

WEST HAVEN, CONN. --- The new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Haven hopes to focus on expanding and strengthening both liberal arts and career-oriented programs over the next few years.

Lourdes Maria Alvarez, the former head of the department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., began her new job as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNH earlier this month.

“In the short time I have been here, I have been so impressed by the quality of the faculty and the drive and enthusiasm of our students,” Alvarez said. “The University of New Haven is hopping at all hours of the night and day. It is an exciting ‘sweet spot’ in the vast array of offerings in higher education today. We have a unique mix of career-oriented programs as well as liberal arts offerings­—a strength that can be leveraged into additional momentum for new and expanded academic offerings.”

Alvarez, who also served as an associate professor of Spanish at Catholic University, is an internationally recognized scholar of medieval Spain and earned her doctoral degree from Yale University.

At Catholic University, Alvarez oversaw a period of rapid change and expansion, adding several non-Western languages to the curriculum, fostering active partnerships across school and departmental lines, revamping the curriculum, and rethinking language instruction to increase rigor and strengthen student performance.

At UNH, she says, she plans to take the time to get to know the faculty and learn about the work they are already doing with students: cutting-edge faculty-student research, fantastic creative endeavors in the arts, vital service projects in our backyard and abroad, and working to prepare a new generation of teachers.

“I want to see us building on the tremendous momentum UNH has had over the past few years and use that to strengthen programs,” said Alvarez. “I have already heard some spectacular ideas from the faculty; there will be exciting new developments in every department in the College of Arts and Sciences in the future.”

Conversant in five languages, Alvarez is the author of a book and numerous book chapters, journal articles and conference papers.

A recipient of a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship for Morocco in 2000, Alvarez earned her B.A. in neurobiology at the University of California at Berkeley, her M.A. in Spanish from San Francisco State University and her Ph.D. in Spanish from Yale University, where she was awarded the Richard Franke Fellowship in the Humanities.

“I think higher education—when it’s done right—can serve to restore something precious: wonder,” said Alvarez. “Aside from the skills and knowledge we all need to do important work, our lives are immeasurably enriched when we are trained to see, to appreciate the elegance of a mathematical concept, the beauty of a work of art, the physics underlying a chemical reaction, or the delicate balance of our ecosystem.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and University College, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 17 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Athletic Conference.