Kathleen Roberts Skerrett, associate dean and professor of religious studies at Grinnell College, has been appointed dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at University of Richmond, effective
Skerrett has been a member of Grinnell’s faculty since 1998 and became associate dean in 2007. She previously taught at McGill University in Montreal, after earning her Ph.D. in theology and the modern West from Harvard University in 1993.
She succeeds Andrew F. Newcomb, who is stepping down to resume teaching psychology after 10 years as Arts and Sciences dean.
“We were extraordinarily fortunate to attract a recognized scholar with substantial administrative experience from one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country as our next dean,” said Stephen Allred, Richmond’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Dr. Skerrett generated excitement and gained widespread support from our faculty and staff during the interview process.”
A native of Toronto, Canada, Skerrett said she was attracted to Richmond by its leadership, faculty and students.
“The faculty members are innovative and willing to take responsible risks. The students I met were doing exceptional academic programs integrated with service and learning opportunities in the community and abroad. The leadership team and faculty are inspiring. They have vision and heart and the daring to pursue ambitious ideals,” she said.
“I think Richmond is going to be the model for liberal arts education that is responsive to diverse communities in the 21st century,” Skerrett predicted. “The faculty and leadership team have embraced a mandate to create a learning environment unlike any other. They are forging unique undergraduate opportunities through strong interconnections of the School of Arts and Sciences with the schools of law, business, leadership and continuing studies.”
Skerrett entered Mount Allison University, a premier Canadian undergraduate university, at age 16. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she earned a law degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and passed the bar in Toronto. She returned to graduate school at Harvard to pursue the interdisciplinary studies that continue to motivate her work.
Skerrett’s scholarly research has focused on Christian tradition, contemporary religious thought and gender studies, and political theory. She has published more than a dozen scholarly articles and 30 conference papers on related topics. Skerrett is a frequently invited lecturer at institutions and organizations including the University of Chicago, New York University, King’s College (Halifax, N.S.) and Atlantic School of Theology (Halifax, N.S.), among many others.
Her awards include a Faith and Life Sabbatical Award from the Louisville Institute, an appointment as a visiting fellow at NYU’s Center for Religion and the Media, and a Royal Bank Teaching Innovation Award. She was appointed by her Grinnell College colleagues as an Interdisciplinary Studies Fellow to further collaborative teaching and learning there.
At Grinnell, her extensive service includes an appointment as acting vice president for diversity and achievement, chair of the gender and women’s studies concentration, and membership on the budget, personnel, academic standing and first year seminar and advising committees. Skerrett actively fostered the Grinnell Liberal Arts in Prison Program, now a member of the Consortium for Liberal Arts in Prison at Bard College. At McGill, Skerrett served as a faculty director of a first year residence and chair of the University Task Force on First Year Experience.