New dean named for College of Arts and Sciences


Robbin CrabtreeRobbin Crabtree, professor of communication and director of the Office of Service Learning at Fairfield University, has been named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University.

Professor Crabtree came to Fairfield in 2001 from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she was an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies. She was chair of the Department of Communication at Fairfield from 2001 until August of 2007, when she was named director of the newly established Office for Service Learning in the Center for Faith and Public Life. She served as chair of the faculty for the College of Arts and Sciences from 2003 to 2006. Dr. Crabtree was recently named "Teacher of the Year" by Fairfield's Chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit honor society. She has published over 40 scholarly articles and chapters and presented papers at the meetings of many academic societies.

In making the announcement, Fairfield President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., said, "Robbin is an accomplished scholar and award-winning teacher who has experience both in higher education and non-profit administration. She is a collaborator and a consensus builder with a strong record of leadership here at Fairfield. All this, in addition to her commitment to diversity and the social justice mission for this institution, makes her the ideal person for this post."

Dr. Crabtree said she is thrilled to have this opportunity. "There is so much exciting and meaningful work to do related to the strategic plan and I look forward to engaging with my colleagues in my new role as Dean. The College of Arts and Sciences is the heart and soul of Fairfield University; its faculty members are superb and are the essential guardians of its mission. I will be honored to facilitate our work together. There is no doubt that I will miss being in the classroom, which has always been home to me. However, I am confident that I will find new ways to interact with our great students; after all, creating an outstanding learning experience for and with them is what it's all about."

Vice President for Academic Affairs Orin Grossman, who chaired the search committee, said, "I am delighted that Dr. Crabtree has agreed to be Dean. This is an exciting time for the College, with many wonderful opportunities for increased academic excellence. Robbin has excelled as a scholar, teacher, department chair and as the director of service learning and she has built programs with high academic standards. I am convinced that she is the right person to lead the College at this critical period and I look forward to working with her to advance the mission of the College and the University."

Dr. Crabtree is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a B.A. in Communication. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Minnesota.

In addition to a record of teaching excellence, Dr. Crabtree has served in several administrative roles at Fairfield. As chair of the Department of Communication for six years she was responsible for recruiting, hiring, mentoring and reviewing performance of faculty, management of department budget and identification of new revenue streams, curriculum design and review, student learning assessment and a variety of other departmental responsibilities. As chair of the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences she chaired the monthly meetings, worked closely with the College Dean and steering committee on long-range planning and priorities and functioned as the faculty liaison to the Dean.

Dr. Crabtree made a significant mark during her tenure as chair of the Department of Communication. In addition to adding new courses to the curriculum focusing on globalization and feminist approaches to communication and media studies, she redesigned the department internship program to be more academically rigorous. Also during this time, the size of the faculty grew from five to nine full-time members to meet immense student demand for the major, the curriculum and advising procedures were streamlined, department participation in interdisciplinary programs increased substantially, and new graduate programs were developed.

When the University's Office of Service Learning was established, Robbin was recruited to develop a university-wide service-learning program, a priority of the institution's strategic plan. She has been responsible for developing the mission, guiding principles, procedures, and organizational and personnel structures. Collaborating with others throughout the institution she created an advisory committee for the Center and spearheaded a strategic planning process for service learning that resulted in a five-year plan for the initiative. "Melissa (Quan, assistant director in the Center for Faith & Public Life) and I have been very gratified to see the progress made in such a short time. Fairfield has much to be proud of as we emerge as a leader in service-learning," Dr. Crabtree said.

She also has an exemplary record of engagement with and service to organizations external to the University including experience with a variety of non-profit groups and community and government agencies as a volunteer, board member, trainer and consultant. Dr. Crabtree is a member of the Board of Directors of Bridges to Community, Inc., Scarborough, New York, and served as program committee chair. While in New Mexico, she was a member of the Board of Directors of Colonias Development Council, a member of Las Adelitas, an organization promoting women's candidacy for public office, and a member of the Board of La Piñon Sexual Trauma Crisis and Recovery Services, where she also served on the sexual assault response team for many years.

Dr. Crabtree will begin work as Dean on August 1, 2008. She replaces Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., who left Fairfield July 1, 2007, to serve as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Loyola College in Maryland. Dr. Ray Poincelot, professor of biology, is serving as interim dean for the 2007-2008 academic year.

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Media Contact: Martha Milcarek, Asst. Vice President for Public Relations, (203) 254-4190

Posted on January 4, 2008