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Campus Announcements

Baernstein named dean of College of Arts and Science

Senior associate dean and professor of History begins new role July 1

Renée Baernstein will become dean of Miami University's College of Arts and Science on July 1
Campus Announcements

Baernstein named dean of College of Arts and Science

One of Renée Baernstein’s earliest passions was languages. The first foreign language she studied was French. The first she learned well was Italian.

The St. Louis native sees similarities in her new role as dean of Miami University’s College of Arts and Science (CAS). Each of the college’s disciplines and fields has its own unique way of asking questions, of understanding the world and how people engage with one another.

“I get to learn about all of these ‘languages,’” said Baernstein, who officially begins as CAS dean on July 1. “What I love about the college is the incredible range and diversity of the disciplines we include.”

Currently senior associate dean of CAS and professor of History, Baernstein has been at Miami since 1993. She earned her B.A. from Cornell University and Ph.D. from Harvard.

Baernstein replaces Chris Makaroff, who has held that position since 2015.

“I am excited to work with Renée as the new dean of CAS,” provost Elizabeth Mullenix said. “She has a great vision for the future of the college and has many years of experience working at Miami. She has a deep understanding of a large, diverse division and has cultivated valuable partnerships both within and outside the university.”

Baernstein’s selection came after a national search that saw Miami partner with executive search firm Storbeck Search and Associates.

Eager for the opportunity, Baernstein said she’s looking forward to getting to better know the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the college.

“I already know many of the players,” she said. “There is so much terrific work being done and so much loyalty here. I’m going to start out by doing a lot of listening and visiting the departments, different student organizations, and our alumni groups to see how we can work together.”

Miami was Baernstein’s first destination out of graduate school. While she wasn’t sure what to expect, a vibrant student life and local community made Oxford a good place to work and raise a family.

With research that focuses on religion and culture of Renaissance Italy, Baernstein is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and has been a Fulbright Fellow as well as a visiting professor at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence.

Baernstein earned the CAS Distinguished Educator Award in 2014 and a year later became associate dean. She works directly with the college’s nine Humanities departments, has supervised curriculum, and is in charge of space and facilities.

“The teacher-scholar model was a big attraction to me when I very first took the job as a new Ph.D. I believe our research prospers when we bring students into it, and our students learn best when they can join us in the research enterprise,” Baernstein said.

She offered praise for Miami’s students, who Baernstein said appreciate hands-on learning and are passionate about helping people and the environment.

“Like every generation, they have their own character as a group,” Baernstein said. “They have been tested and tried by the pandemic. They are dreamers and doers. I think they are amazing.”