For the first time in 30 years, Julie Hayes will not be teaching French to college students. As of Sept. 1, she became the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts.
Hayes, an Odessa, Texas native, was associate dean to Joel Martin last year. She took over this year as Martin assumed the role of vice provost of academic personnel.
“The college was left in magnificent shape,” said Hayes, giving credit to her predecessor. “A lot of good things are going on and we want to maintain that,” she continued. “We want to make sure we keep hiring and ensure the sustainability of our programs.”
One of the big differences of going from associate dean to dean of the college is balancing the needs of a large department, said Hayes, but everyone is very supportive.
“Humanities and Fine Arts has a sense of common purpose,” she said
Aside from the busyness of her new position, Hayes also says she pays more attention to investments and infrastructure and that her schedule is much tighter.
“The scheduling here is intense. There’s a meeting every hour on the hour,” she said “The college deserves as much as I can give it.”
As a new group of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Humanities and Fine Arts department heads are meeting to discuss the merits of a merger of the two colleges, Hayes discussed the long rumored idea.
“There have been group interdisciplinary projects for years [such as Latin American studies], a merger needs to facilitate that kind of work,” she said “If they do it, they need to do it right. It has to be done in a way that contains all the strengths of both schools.”
Hayes also mentioned last year’s task force, which did not conclude that the two colleges should be combined.
“This is not a done deal,” said Hayes, “But it needs to be resolved… one way or the other, both [colleges] need to decide.”
Hayes, born in West Texas, began school in Paris when she was six.
“I first learned how to read in French,” she explained. “It was strange and magical.” When she moved back to Texas she could not read English.
“I’ve always been interested in French, “said Hayes, who got her Bachelor of Arts degree in French and philosophy from Austin College and her PhD in French literature at Northwestern University.
“Chicago was my first major American city,” said Hayes, who calls herself a “lifelong southerner.”
Before coming to UMass, Hayes spent 24 years teaching and chairing the language department at the University of Richmond.
“It helped me focus on undergraduates,” she said about her time at the 4,344-student university. “But it is good to be in a bigger place.”
Hayes came to UMass in the fall of 2006 as the chair of the young Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
“I enjoyed the past four years,” said Hayes about her time as LLC chair. “UMass has a real sense of community and spirit.”
Hayes uses her writing as her source of meditation and comfort.
“Writing keeps my sane and happy,” she said. Hayes has written about French philosophy during the enlightenment period, the question of complexity in philosophical thought, the history of translation and “the way people shape themselves.” Her most recent book was “Translation, Subjectivity, and Culture in France and England, 1600-1800.”
Hayes has found even more comfort in the school library.
“I love sitting in reserve rooms in libraries and looking at things no one has seen in hundreds of years,” Hayes said
“I will never be bored here,” Hayes said. “We always will have new challenges and crises. The commitment of people to this institute is wonderful. UMass has a wealth of talent.”
Sam Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.