MOSCOW, IDAHO - Historian Katherine G. Aiken looks to the past to find context for the present and vision for the future. Aiken, professor of history at the University of Idaho, will become the new dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), the university's largest academic division. She currently serves as interim dean and takes up the permanent post on July 2, 2007.
"Katherine's approach to education and administration is dynamic, collaborative, interdisciplinary and engaging," said Provost Doug Baker. "Her strengths include vision and vitality, with a keen ability to balance the strategic needs of the university with the scholarship and careful development of the college."
A graduate of Sunnyside High School in the late 1960's, she joined the University of Idaho's history department in 1984 as a visiting assistant professor of history and in 1988 became an assistant professor in the department. She served as history department chair from 2000 to 2005 and as acting dean of the College of Graduate Studies in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, she became associate dean of CLASS and in 2006 was named interim dean.
Under her leadership, the history department created a permanent endowment fund and enhanced research opportunities for faculty members. During her tenure as interim dean, she regularized the college's budgeting process, hired a business manager, revitalized the CLASS Advancement Council's focus on fundraising, launched the "Come to CLASS" awareness program and guided the college's strategic planning process.
"The College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences has earned its reputation for excellent teaching, as a center for cutting-edge scholarship, and for the many contributions faculty, staff, students and graduates have made to Idaho and beyond," said Aiken. "While the CLASS disciplines are diverse, they are central to the success of the University of Idaho. It is a great privilege to work with the talented faculty, staff and students in the college. I look forward to continuing the CLASS commitment to lively intellectual exchange and collaboration across disciplines."
From 1980 to 1987, Aiken held positions at Lewis-State Clark College in Lewiston, Idaho, including director of extended learning and continuing education.
She is the recipient of numerous awards for her teaching at the university. She received the Alumni Award for Excellence four times, and was twice selected for the Associated Students of the University of Idaho Outstanding Faculty Award. She was selected as one of the inaugural faculty fellows for the 1998-99 Excellence in Teaching the Humanities Program and honored as a Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Professor in 2005.
"Katherine makes deep connections with scholars in the academy, with students in the classroom and with the community at large," Baker said. "She is at ease making the case for a broad liberal arts education and can make critical and strategic decisions that will take the college to an even higher level of scholarship and success."
Aiken is the author of several books, most recently "Idaho: The Heroic Journey" (Cherbo Publishing, 2006) and "Idaho's Bunker Hill: The Rise and Fall of a Great Mining Company, 1885-1981" (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005).
Aiken earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Idaho, a master's degree in history from the University of Oregon and a doctorate in history from Washington State University. In 2007, she was elected to the Idaho Humanities Council.