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(April 11, 2002, Gazette)

New dean of arts appointed
The road ahead

Dr. David GrahamPhoto by Chris HammondDr. David Graham

Dr. David Graham, Memorial University’s new dean of arts, will take up his new post in July 2002. Finishing a term as head of the Department of French and Spanish, as well as a sabbatical leave, Dr. Graham has not yet settled into his new post. However, he has a clear vision of how the Faculty of Arts will continue to function as a viable member of the university community.

Dr. Graham has been a faculty member at Memorial in the Department of French and Spanish since 1979, after teaching for eight years at the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON. Coming from Saskatchewan, he completed an honours degree at the University of Saskatchewan and did his graduate work in French at the University of Western Ontario. During his tenure at Memorial, Dr. Graham has been head of the Department of French and Spanish twice.

French emblem books have been the focus of Dr. Graham’s research for a number of years. Created primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries, these illustrated books are part of a larger European genre. More specifically, Dr. Graham has been working on picture/text relationships and the construction of meaning through mixed sign systems of images and texts, as well as the computerization of old books.

Dr. Graham sees several key challenges that he wishes to address in his new role as dean of arts. While many of them are interrelated, Dr. Graham thinks that faculty renewal is a main priority. While noting the university’s more experienced faculty members are a great asset, Dr. Graham said “it is critically important for us as a faculty to find ways to make good appointments of junior faculty.”

Another challenge for the Faculty of Arts is program offerings. While enrolment remains high, the number of students completing majors and minors, as well as the number of arts degrees conferred, has declined in recent years. Dr. Graham interprets this to mean that, while courses offered by the faculty remain attractive, the programs may not be as appealing as they once were, especially as professional programs may be perceived as being more practical. He believes that strong arguments can be made in support of the practicality of an Arts degree, but sees revitalizing arts programs as necessary to ensure the success of the faculty over the next decade.

Resources are of course crucial, and Dr. Graham intends to look for resources both within and outside the university. In order to do that, he said, “we have to increase public support for the humanities and social sciences. That’s a long-term objective. But I think, in a sense, that’s a key to all the rest.”