Jessie Ann Owens plans to step down in June from her role as dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, UC Davis announced on Monday.
Owen has led the division of the College of Letters and Science for eight of its 20 years. She will return to her role as a professor of music following a year of research leave.
“It has been a special privilege for me to serve as dean,” Owens said in a news release. “I am proud of how the faculty and students are inventing a new kind of humanities. There is unusual richness in the combination of humanities, arts and cultural studies, in a setting where the land-grant mission is paramount.
“Our faculty is collaborating with faculty across campus on issues that matter to California and to the world.”
During her time as dean:
* The division hired about 30 percent of its current professors — 40 percent of whom are from underrepresented groups and nearly 60 percent of whom are women — a faculty that has earned increasing numbers of national fellowships, including fellowships from the Guggenheim and American Council of Learned Societies.
* She helped lead efforts to fund two major new buildings — a classroom and recital hall and the Shrem Museum of Art — and oversaw a campus arts space plan that included renovations to Everson Hall, Cruess Hall and the Art Building;
* UCD was invited to join the ACLA Research University Consortium, a group of 33 universities working to sustain and improve humanities research;
* The division received three grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, including a $1.4 million grant supporting projects in early modern studies, environments and societies, digital cultures and social justice;
* She made a successful push to increase funding for graduate education, one result of which was the establishment of 25 fully funded recruitment and dissertation fellowships for humanities Ph.D. programs; and
* A new graduate group in the study of religion was formed.
“I am deeply grateful for Jessie Ann’s service as dean,” Provost Ralph Hexter said in the news release. “She has led the division through years that were very difficult, yet despite severe resource constraints, she kept her eye steadfastly on the highest standards of excellence, enabling our departments to hire a cohort of remarkable new faculty.
“She has always put the education of students — both undergraduate and graduate — first, in the true spirit of the College of Letters and Science.”
Owens, a musicologist specializing in early modern music, plans to turn her attention to two projects already underway: a critical edition of English composer Thomas Morley’s 1597 treatise “A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke” and a book about the representation of voice in the music of Flemish composer Cipriano de Rore.
Before moving to UCD, Owens taught at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and Brandeis University, where she also served as dean of arts and sciences. She has served as president of both the American Musicological Society and the Renaissance Society of America. In 2003, Owens was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.