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New Dean on the Scene: Dr. Ashley Kistler to be Dean of CLA

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

After a scrupulous review of prospective candidates, a new Dean of the Rollins College of Liberal Arts has been named: Dr. Ashley Kistler. 

The news was announced by Rollins College Provost, Dr. Susan Singer, in an address to the campus: “​​[Kistler] has clearly demonstrated a commitment to Rollins’ liberal arts mission, and I am confident that she will provide a clear vision for the future of the College of Liberal Arts. Her dedication to a transparent and inclusive model of leadership is exactly what we need at this time.”

Singer referenced Kistler’s manifold roles in the college over the past few years, including Interim Dean of Academics this past year, Associate Dean of Academics, and chair of the Department of Anthropology. 

“Through her research and deep engagement with global initiatives she exemplifies global citizenship … Ashley’s experience in engaged learning and global awareness beyond the classroom, including serving as expert witness in asylum cases from Guatemala, demonstrates an awareness and intercultural competency that will inform how she advocates for and supports diverse faculty, as well as better supports Rollins’ increasingly diverse community of student learners,” added Singer.

 The Office of the Dean of Faculty website notes that “Recently, Dr. Kistler has served as an expert witness in Guatemala in asylum cases in immigration courts across the country. She has been recognized for her teaching, research, and service with a Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award in 2013 and a Bornstein Award in 2019.” She is also the author of the book Maya Market Women (2014), which discusses how “indigenous women in highland Guatemala transform their gendered status and enact local ideas of what family is through their involvement in market sales,” as well as the book Faces of Resistance: Maya, Heroes, Power, and Identity

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

“Based on my various leadership experiences at Rollins and steadfast commitment to our liberal arts mission, I am enthusiastic to continue this work as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts,” said Kistler in a statement to The Sandspur.

“Since joining the Rollins faculty in 2008, my dedication to Rollins’ liberal arts curriculum and mission of global citizenship and responsible leadership has grounded my teaching, research, and service,” said Kistler. “As an anthropologist, I have been trained to think holistically about the world, understand how people build community, and communicate with diverse groups. The opportunity to encourage our students to see the world through a liberal arts perspective has motivated my work.” 

Kistler began working at Rollins in 2008, as an assistant professor within the Department of Anthropology and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program. Later, as Associate Dean of Academics, she was in charge of curating general education programs for rFLA, Honors, and RCC programs in the College of Liberal Arts. 

Now, Kistler is carrying her experience into this new position. She shared that her early experiences in academic administration began in June of 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic. 

 “My days were filled with social distancing our classrooms, developing plans and back-up plans for the Fall 2020 semester, and listening to faculty and student concerns about teaching and learning among the everyday realities of COVID-19. While this time was among the most difficult moments of my professional career, the lessons I learned about advocating for faculty, supporting curricular innovation, and stewarding budgets, among other things, have informed my priorities as Associate and Interim Dean of Academics,” said Kistler. 

 Kistler is heading into the role of Dean of CLA with a list of priorities: “Informed by my position as a tenured member of our faculty and three years of experience in the Dean’s Office, I have several priorities that motivate me to take on the role of Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. These priorities include: 1) addressing staffing concerns to ensure academic programs can offer the classes students need when they need them; 2) improving faculty workload and morale; 3) offering increased budget transparency; 4) and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion on our campus.”

Photo by Alexander Knobloch

A great deal of consideration and deliberation is invested in Dean searches. Dr. Donald Davison, Professor of Political Science at Rollins and head of the search committee for the Dean of CLA, shared in a statement to the Sandspur, “The search committee was composed of faculty representatives from each academic division of CLA as well as representatives from areas of the College with whom the new dean will be interacting. These include Finance, Student Affairs, Registrar, and Academic Advising … The search committee, after conducting a rigorous review of two candidates, recommended to President Cornwell that Interim Dean Ashley Kistler be appointed the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.”

Dr. Kistler’s five-year renewable term will commence on July 1, 2023.

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