School News
SMU appoints Cordelia Canrelaria as new dean
Apr 2, 2008

DALLAS (SMU) — SMU’s new dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences is an academic administrator with experience in strategic affairs as well as an accomplished scholar-teacher in English and ethnic studies. Her appointment is effective July 1.

Cordelia Chávez Candelaria comes to SMU from Arizona State University in Tempe. She is Regents Professor in the Department of English and the Department of Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, a department she once chaired. She also serves as associate dean of the Office of Strategic Initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. 

“We are so pleased that Dr. Cordelia Candelaria will be joining our faculty as dean of Dedman College and University Distinguished Professor of English. She brings an extraordinary wealth of academic and administrative experience to our campus, and she will lead the largest academic unit at SMU,” said Paul W. Ludden, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SMU. “What impressed everyone who met with her during the interview process was her ability to think strategically across the spectrum of disciplines represented in the College.”

As founding associate dean for the Office of Strategic Initiatives at ASU, Candelaria has focused on enhancing diversity among faculty, administrators and staff for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as advancing interdisciplinary academic programs.

Previously, as vice president for academic affairs for the ASU downtown Phoenix campus, she assisted with preparations to open the full-service city campus, including ASU’s first Information Commons integrating IT, campus library and global Web information systems. She was instrumental in developing curricula and establishing a faculty governance system for the downtown campus.   

As chair of the Department of Chicana/o Studies, she helped establish the University’s Southwest Borderlands Initiative to strengthen studies in this discipline and to recruit and retain under-represented faculty. She initiated and guided curriculum improvements, including the addition of six new courses, and coordinated community outreach efforts.

At the same time, she has remained an active teacher and researcher, receiving 18 grants from external funding agencies totaling $3.5 million—12 grants as the principal or co-principal investigator and six as a member of the research team. She is the sole author of six books and “chapbooks,” pamphlets containing poems, ballads, stories or religious tracts. Among her publications are the scholarly books Seeking the Perfect Game: Baseball in American Literature and Chicano Poetry, A Critical Introduction.

Along with serving as executive editor of the two-volume Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture, she has edited or co-edited 10 books, monographs and periodicals and has written nearly 200 book chapters, articles, reviews and poems in periodicals and anthologies.    

“From SMU’s opening in 1915, the humanities and sciences have been the centerpiece of the University. Today, Dedman College provides the educational foundation for all students and serves as the academic home of those majoring in the humanities and sciences. As we approach our centennial with a new major gifts campaign, we are committed to raising resources in particular for enhancements to Dedman College,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Cordelia Candelaria has the experience and vision to provide the leadership needed to meet our aspirations.”   

As dean of Dedman College, Candelaria will lead the largest of SMU’s colleges and schools, with a faculty of more than 250 and 2,000 students enrolled as majors or minors. Dedman College offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through 16 departments in the humanities, social sciences and mathematical and natural sciences. The College also offers pre-law and pre-medical programs, as well as interdisciplinary majors in areas such as environmental studies and international affairs.

All SMU students begin their education in Dedman College, where they take general studies courses before choosing a major in another SMU school or within Dedman College. In 1981 the college was named in honor of its benefactors, Robert H. Dedman Sr. and his wife, Nancy McMillan Dedman, of Dallas.    

“I’m enthusiastic about heading Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences which, as the University’s oldest and largest college, has helped define the very nature of SMU,” said Candelaria. “The College connects all of the University’s students to knowledge of the past and to new frontiers of creative discovery through both its General Education curriculum and major programs of study in the social sciences, natural sciences and the humanities. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to advance Dedman College programs to flourishing levels of achievement, innovation, and visibility, which will have a positive impact on our shared interconnected global reality.”   

Candelaria earned a B.A. degree with honors in English and French from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado; a master’s degree in English from the University of Notre Dame; and a Ph.D. degree in American literature and linguistics from Notre Dame. In 1970-72 she studied under a Woodrow Wilson Graduate Fellowship.   

After beginning her academic career at Idaho State University, she served as a program officer in the Division of Research at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. There, for the first time, she integrated underrepresented disciplines and scholars into its database of specialist readers, reviewers and evaluation panels.   

Candelaria also taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was founding director of the UCB Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America, chaired the Chicano Studies Program and taught in the Department of English. She was a visiting professor at Stanford University’s Department of English and Chicano Fellows Center.    

Among numerous awards, in 2005 she received the Outstanding Latina Cultural Award in Literary Arts and Publications from the American Association for Higher Education Hispanic Caucus and in 2001 was named Scholar of the Year by the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies.

She previously was named a Senior Fulbright Scholar in American Literature at Universidad Católica de Lima, Perú. In 1991, she became only the third recipient of The Americas Award from the University of Colorado, Boulder, following previous winners Carlos Fuentes and U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.   

Candelaria’s SMU appointment ends a nationwide search coordinated by a committee chaired by José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts.

“I am thrilled that Cordelia Candelaria will be joining our vibrant group of deans and administrators at SMU,” Bowen said. “Her interview was impressive for its honesty and passion, and she has a clear record of getting things done. It is a great day for Dedman College and SMU.”    

Professor of Anthropology Caroline Brettell has served as interim dean of Dedman College for the past two years. “Professor Brettell, one of SMU’s most distinguished faculty members, has ably led the College as interim dean, and we are grateful for her dedicated service,” Provost Ludden said. “Working with the faculty, she has continued the progress of Dedman and has positioned the College for future advancement. We wish her the best as she returns to full-time teaching and research in the Department of Anthropology.”