New A&S Dean peers into a bright future at SHU

Out of the upwards of 50 candidates who applied for Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Peter Shoemaker almost didn’t make the cut.

“It’s funny: I missed the official deadline by a couple of days, so I was unsure whether my application would be considered,” he said in an email. “Luckily, it was.”

The Office of the Provost sent a University-wide email on Friday with details of Shoemaker’s appointment, which becomes effective July 1.

He will be the third official dean, along with several interim deans, of the College in the past 10 years.

“Dr. Shoemaker is a distinguished academician who possesses the experience, portfolio and vision needed to effectively lead the College,” the Provost’s email stated.

Dr. John Saccoman, chair of the department of Mathematics and Computer Science, headed the nine-member committee that reviewed and rated applications, and conducted interviews for the candidates.

Saccoman said the selection process started in October and from this applicant pool, since February, five were brought to campus for interviews from February through April. Saccoman said Shoemaker was ultimately selected by the Provost.

Saccoman pointed to Shoemaker’s familiarity with the Catholic university structure, citing that he is already familiar with pontifical governance.

Shoemaker is currently serving as the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Director of the University Honors Program and Associate Professor of French at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C.

He reached for the chance at a “fantastic opportunity” to be a part of Seton Hall’s “academic reputation, commitment to liberal arts, and—of course—the legendary basketball team.”

Shoemaker said he has a lot to learn about Seton Hall and the College of Arts & Sciences, but as a broad goal he hopes to raise the profile of A&S within the University and the community.

“Folks need to know that there are a lot of great things going on in the school, and that twenty-first century employers really do value a liberal arts education,” he said. “I also believe that it is essential to find new ways to support faculty in their scholarly endeavors. Research excellence is key to the future of A&S.”

Dr. Chrysanthy Grieco has been serving as interim dean of the College since Dean Michael Zavada left in late May 2015 “to pursue other professional opportunities,” as stated in a University-wide email announcement from the Office of the Provost.

“I have loved coming out of retirement to serve Arts and Sciences,” she said of her time as interim dean. “It’s home base for me (and) there is nothing better than to serve those you love.”

She said there are many challenges the new dean will face. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest on campus, with 13 departments, two dozen programs, almost 200 faculty members and more than 3,000 students.

Grieco said the College is particularly focusing on faculty development, in terms of helping new faculty ease into the routine of the College.

The interim dean said some other goals include enhancing the offerings in Africana studies, environmental studies, Honors Program and the core curriculum. Specifically, the College seeks to develop more online learning, continue digital humanities, promote University-wide dual degree programs, among other goals.

Shoemaker’s extensive list of projects at CUA can provide a fresh perspective to advance these goals.

“In my capacity as Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies (at CUA), I am responsible for tutoring, the writing center, and first-year advising—and so I know how important these services are, especially for students making the transition to college,” he said.

Similarly, Shoemaker said he was involved in a first-year student academic mentorship program for students to work on career skills, like interviewing and finding internship and research opportunities.

Calling the Honors Program at CUA—of which he is director—a “labor of love” and the “best part about the job,” he said he is looking forward to supporting SHU’s Honors Program, headed by the Rev. Dr. John Ranieri.

At CUA, he led students on a spring break trip to Paris on a regular basis.

“I will absolutely do what I can to support these kinds of international opportunities,” Shoemaker said. “I’m a big, big supporter of providing students with international experiences.”

He has advocated for sustainable transportation on the CUA campus, including better bike racks—an important topic for a recreational cyclist and occasional bike commuter.

This initiative could gain traction as the Village of South Orange seek to implement bike lanes in town.

Shoemaker earned a Ph.D. in romance languages and literatures and a master’s degree in romance languages in literature from Princeton University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of Chicago.

Emily Balan can be reached at

Author: Emily Balan

Emily is the news editor for The Setonian and writes for the news section. She also writes for The Diplomatic Envoy where she holds the layout & copy editor position. She will be graduating in spring 2016 from the School of Diplomacy with a BS in diplomacy and international relations and a BA in philosophy, with minors in French and journalism.

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