Ryan Claycomb, former associate dean of the Honors College and founding director of the West Virginia University Humanities Center, has been named acting dean of the Honors College effective Nov. 26.
Honors College Dean Ken Blemings, who will serve as interim dean of the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, plans to return to the Honors College once a permanent Davis dean is named.
“Our Honors College is what many of our talented students consider their ‘home’ on campus,” Provost Joyce McConnell said. “We’ve been fortunate to have tremendously gifted leadership in the College over the last few years and we are grateful that Ryan has agreed to step into the acting dean role to keep our Honors students engaged in the extraordinary work they are doing on campus, both inside and out of the classroom.”
Claycomb served as assistant and then associate dean of the Honors College beginning in 2012. During his time in Honors, he developed the Honors Foundations Program, established the Honors Faculty Fellows Program and oversaw on-campus summer programming for middle and high-school students, including the West Virginia Governor’s Honors Academy and the Governor’s School for Math and Science.
In 2017, Claycomb left Honors to serve as the interim founding director of the WVU Humanities Center, established by the Office of the Provost to support innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary faculty research in all humanities fields. Provost McConnell recently named him the Center’s permanent director.
In the past year, the Center has established several major programs and initiatives to contribute to scholarly work in the humanities at the university and throughout the state.
Complementary to its monthly organized lectures, panels, and workshops, the Center has sponsored a yearlong “Quality of Life” speaker series, addressing how the humanities can intersect with and illuminate inquiry on practical approaches to improving quality of life in Appalachia and beyond. The series was recently funded by a major grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council.
In 2018, the Center announced several grant programs for faculty, through which it has so far awarded nearly $75,000 in team and individual grants, for topics ranging from West Virginia’s oral and photographic history to rhetorical practices in mental health and homeopathic healthcare.
The Humanities Center also oversees a variety of other programming for faculty and students, including the 2018-2019 Campus Read and the NEH Next Gen Humanities Ph.D. Planning grant, a project to help rethink career training for humanities Ph.D. students.
“I am thrilled to return for a time to serving the remarkable students in the Honors College,” Claycomb said. “Dean Blemings has assembled an excellent team and built a culture of high achievement and deep inquiry, and I hope to keep that mission on the positive track it is already on, while also continuing to foster the important humanities scholarly work happening around campus.”
McConnell anticipates conducting an internal search for an associate director of the Humanities Center this spring. Claycomb will serve as acting dean of the Honors College through June 2020, when Blemings anticipates returning to the permanent role.