Dianne Oliver Is New CAS Dean

by Amy Gallo ’13

Nazareth College is pleased to announce Dianne Oliver as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Oliver began her appointment this summer after most recently serving as professor and associate dean at the University of Evansville in Indiana.

Oliver earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and worked in software development and management for 13 years before pursuing graduate work in religion.

She believes that this unconventional career path has helped her better understand the Nazareth academic experience. “In the same way that software development and religion come together in my background,” she says, “Nazareth’s bringing together of a deep commitment to excellence in liberal arts with opportunities in strong professional programs creates a synergy that enhances both.”

In her 20 years of academic experience, Oliver has served as a religion professor, faculty leader, and academic administrator, focusing her teaching and research on theology, ethics, social justice, and religious pluralism/interfaith engagement. She directed the University of Evansville teaching center and serves as a national consultant on teaching and learning issues (with the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion).

Her passion for exploring the “big picture” questions also drew her to Nazareth, as “the College’s clear commitment to civic engagement, service learning, international education, interfaith work, and creative approaches to the core curriculum mesh with much of my background and passions.” She adds, “Nazareth practices what I believe is most integral to the type of transformative education we want for the benefit of our students and the good of society.”

Oliver also acknowledges the challenges she will face in her new role. “Higher education is facing some substantive issues. Navigating these waters is a challenge for everyone, especially in the arts and sciences,” she says. “I look forward to working with the Nazareth community to take what clearly works here as the basis for exploring opportunities and imagining new possibilities.”

Oliver earned both her master’s degree and her doctorate in theology and ethics at Vanderbilt University. She also earned her Master of Divinity degree from Southern Seminary.

“I’m thrilled to be part of an institution where the liberal arts are central to a student’s education regardless of major,” said Oliver. “The combination of a liberal arts core with Nazareth’s commitment to civic engagement and service helps create the space for a transformative student experience.”

Amy Gallo ’13 is a freelance writer in Rochester, New York.