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June 24, 2022

Dylan Miner appointed dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Dylan Miner, a founding professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University, has been approved by the MSU Board of Trustees as dean of RCAH, effective July 1.

Dylan Miner RCAH dean

A full professor in RCAH, Miner has served as the college’s interim dean since July 2021, when longtime Dean Stephen Esquith stepped down to return to teaching. Until spring 2022, Miner served as director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at MSU for seven years.

“Since assuming the role of interim dean a year ago, Dr. Miner has provided steady leadership for RCAH as faculty and staff undertake forward-looking initiatives that position the college for long-term success,” said MSU Provost Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “His work within RCAH and across colleges has advanced collaboration and fostered synergies, all of which have added value to our community of scholars at MSU.”

Highlights of Miner’s tenure as interim dean include the following:

  • The college successfully navigated the return to in-person living, learning and work as pandemic conditions warranted a move back to campus for most students and staff.
  • The college’s yearlong strategic planning process engaged all faculty and staff to envision the RCAH of the future in anticipation of implementing the recommendations over the next few years. The college will release its plan this summer.
  • RCAH’s historical body of work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as social justice, continued to grow and engage more people and groups on campus, across Greater Lansing and throughout Michigan, as well as internationally.
  • RCAH and the College of Engineering developed a new minor in Design Justice that — once approved this fall — will explore ways in which design and justice relate critically in the pursuit of sustainability. Discussions of additional career-focused, arts-infused majors and minors are ongoing.
  •  Miner and the newly installed deans from MSU’s two other residential colleges (James Madison College and Lyman Briggs College) amplified the symbiotic relationship among their acclaimed undergraduate learning communities. U.S. News & World Report ranks MSU No. 4 — immediately behind Yale and ahead of Princeton and University of Michigan — and No. 1 among public universities for “learning communities.”
  • RCAH and Lyman Briggs finalized plans to conduct a search for an 1855 Professor in Arts and Climate Justice during the upcoming academic year.
  • With James Madison, RCAH developed and will host an Advancing Racial Equity and Advocacy, or AREA, bridge program for incoming students this August.

“I am humbled to continue as dean in the coming years,” Miner said. “Having been hired as an assistant professor in 2007 as part of RCAH’s initial cohort of faculty, I remain committed to advancing the liberal arts at Michigan State University.”

As Miner looks forward, he emphasized his commitment to ensuring that RCAH and MSU become a leader in what he calls the “Great Lakes Arts Ecology.

“As we move the college forward, I am committed to employing our undergraduate arts and humanities education to build a more just and equitable world,” Miner said.

“The liberal arts, particularly those taught in a residential and transcultural context as in RCAH, are particularly necessary at this moment,” Miner continued. “What makes RCAH and MSU unique is the manner in which we ensure that graduates are career-ready, yet ascertain these skills through a community-based and socially engaged curriculum. Community engagement and social justice are central to what makes the college unique and are indispensable to all world-class universities.”

In offering praise at the time of his elevation to interim dean, Woodruff observed that Miner is committed to curriculum development, student success and diversity, equity and inclusion — and noted his service on the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee at the request of President Stanley.

Born and raised in Michigan, Miner is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. He is a prolific artist, activist and scholar who earned his doctorate in art history from the University of New Mexico. His book “Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty and Lowriding Across Turtle Island” was published by the University of Arizona Press. Miner’s scholarly writing also has been published and distributed by Duke University Press, Yale University Press, Oxford University Press and Michigan State University Press, among others.

As an artist, Miner has hung more than two dozen solo art exhibitions and participated in more than 115 group exhibitions throughout his career. He is a founding member of the artist collective Justseeds. His most recent solo exhibition was entitled “These Conditions Can Be Changed” at the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.

Miner will be the only professional, practicing visual artist serving as a dean at MSU.

“We fully support Provost Woodruff’s recommendation that Dylan Miner become RCAH’s dean,” said Associate Professor Tama Hamilton-Wray, RCAH’s Faculty Excellence Advocate and a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee during Miner’s tenure as interim dean. “The way in which he works tirelessly to connect with and navigate the needs and aspirations of the many constituents of RCAH — students, their families, staff, faculty and other communities — is remarkable.

“Over the past year as interim dean, we have seen Dean Miner demonstrate tremendous leadership qualities and face every challenge with grace and great discernment,” Hamilton-Wray continued. “His forward-thinking, progressive ideas will assure RCAH’s future growth and status as a destination college. Finally, the fact that Dylan’s background combines the arts, scholarship and social justice definitely is a bonus for RCAH and MSU.”

By: Morris Arvoy

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