FAMU appoints Dean of the New College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities
By Sharon Saunders
TALLAHASSEE, FL — Florida A&M University (FAMU) has announced recently that Valencia E. Matthews, a long-time faculty member at the university, will serve as dean of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.
“I believe that she is the best person for this job as we start this new college,” said Rodner Wright, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “She has served in a leadership role in this college for years and will be able to continue our efforts to develop a strong academic foundation for our students. As a new college, this is a great opportunity for us to create a legacy…own the challenges and own the solutions.”
Matthews has served as interim dean of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities since July 1, 2012, and has served as interim chair of the Department of Music from December 2011 – June 2012. In addition, she has served as as-sistant dean in the College of Arts and Science from 2002-2012 before the college was split in 2012 to form the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities and the College of Science and Technology.”
“I am a collaborative, team-oriented servant-leader, and as such, I am excited about the opportunity to work with the diverse disciplines that comprise the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities,” Matthews said. “My vision is to create, cultivate and facilitate an environment where we do all things well and by we, I mean faculty, staff, students, administrators, and people of goodwill and honest intent. The eight departments and 17 disciplines that are in the college will be a positive and engaging force at FAMU, in the community and beyond.”
Matthews said her goal is to ensure that students in the college have a positive academic experience with relevant curriculum and experiences that meet the needs of the 21st century workforce. For faculty in the college, she would like to continue initiatives that foster opportunities for research and creative activities, professional development, while she ensures resources are available for faculty to do their jobs.
Matthews has more than 30 years of acting and directing experience in theatrical productions. Some of which include, “For Colored Girls,” “Flyin’ West,” and “Crowns.” She is very well known in her field for the work that she has done and continues to do to increase the presence and enhance the knowledge of history and the arts within the community. She has taught more than 12 different courses in the theatre curriculum over the span of her career and has presented, coordinated and facilitated community forums, such as “HIV/AIDS and the Black Church: A Balm in Gilead” and “When AIDS Hits Home”, were both presented in Tallahassee, Fla. in February of 2002.
Matthews has given numerous research presentations around the country, which include, “Cape Town, South Africa: My View,” Stereotypes of African-American Women in the Media” and “Matthew 23:4: An African-American Dilemma.”
“I have worked to help students, faculty, and others appreciate the creative and critical-thinking skills that are enhanced by participating in the arts,” she said. “I am committed to using the arts as a vehicle for the promotion of social change in the community.”
Actively involved in the theatre world, Matthews has served as director of Theatre with the FAMU Essential Theatre in 1999; founder and artistic director of the Irene C. Edmonds Youth Theatre since 1997; member of the Board of Directors for the Council on Culture and Arts for seven years; board member for the Florida Center for Performing Arts and Education for four years; assistant dean/chairperson of Visual Arts, Humanities and Theatre in the FAMU College of Arts and Sciences for 11 years; artistic director with FAMU Artists in Bloom Festival for three years; FAMU representative for Florida Higher Education Arts Network for 13 years; member of the Black Theatre Network for 15 years; Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation 5k Run/Walk for 10 years; and participated in the Susan G. Komen three-day Walk for Breast Cancer and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for one year.
Matthews is a graduate of South Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts. She earned a master’s degree from Ohio State University in theatre and a doctoral degree in theatre from Florida State University. She has been a full-time faculty member since 1993.
“Through my work, I have introduced African-American theatre to a community that otherwise may not have been exposed to the field,” she said.
Matthews is a native of Lane, S.C. She is married to Joel B. White.