Fordham Names New Dean of GSAS

Kristen McNerney, Contributing Writer

Tyler Stovall, Ph.D., a leading historian of modern France, was named the newest dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) in an email to the Fordham community from Provost Dennis C. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Stovall said his goals will be to continue to attract the best and brightest students to pursue graduate study at Fordham and to ensure that the graduate student body is as diverse and inclusive as possible. 

Jacobs spoke on Stovall’s track record as a humanitarian in his email, adding that Stovall’s rise to prominence in European history as one of the first African Americans to do so has encouraged other minority scholars. 

“A key theme in his professional life—as both a historian and an administrator—has been equity and inclusion,” said Jacobs. 

In a farewell message to Stovall, the provost of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Lori Kletzer, thanked him for his deanship. 

“A commitment to social justice is central to Tyler’s life and career, and I have always found him to be collegial and thoughtful about humanities education,” she said. 

Stovall’s administrative experience includes serving as dean of Humanities at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dean of the Undergraduate Division of Letters and Science at UC Berkeley, and provost of Stevenson College. He taught history at both UC schools, as well as at Ohio State University, and served as a visiting professor at the Université de Polynésie Française in Tahiti. From 2015-2016, Stovall served as president of the American Historical Society (AHA).

He is replacing associate political science professor Melissa Labonte, Ph.D., who has served as the interim dean of GSAS since former dean Eva Badowska, Ph.D., became dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

Stovall said he was attracted to Fordham for many reasons, including its strategic location in New York City, its comprehensive range of graduate programs and its commitment to its Jesuit heritage, specifically one that is concerned with the development of the whole individual. 

“He is someone who is firmly committed to the Jesuit principles of academic excellence, critical thinking, and social justice,” said Vice Provost Jonathan Crystal, Ph.D. 

Stovall says he believes his responsibilities at Fordham will be similar to those at UCSC, and that both institutions share much in common, despite their geographical differences. 

“They both have students who come from many different backgrounds, who are committed to the life of the mind and passionate about making the world a better place,” he said. 

Originally from Gallipolis, Ohio, Stovall’s decorated career in French history began after he received a bachelor’s from Harvard in 1976 and a master’s and doctorate degree in 1978 and 1980, respectively, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

“For me, history is the record not only of how things change, but how people make things change: how they act individually and collectively to create a better world,” wrote Stovall in an autobiographical page on the UCSC website.

Stovall’s work focuses on topics such as transnational history, post-colonialism and issues of race and class. He is the author of ten books, including White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea, and Transnational France, a textbook on French history since 1870. 

Evan Spritzer, Ph.D., used Stovall’s textbook in his Modern France class at Fordham this past spring semester. Spritzer said anyone who has a Ph.D. in French history or any related topic will read Stovall’s work in their graduate studies and said he was stunned to see the news of Stovall joining Fordham.

“As a scholar, mentor, and administrator, there is really no higher level of accomplishment,” Spritzer said.