Saint Leo University has appointed Dr. Heather Parker to the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a role she has filled on an interim basis since November 2018. Deans have oversight and management responsibility for the three colleges currently offering academic programs at Saint Leo University. Dean Parker reports to Dr. Mary Spoto, vice president of Academic Affairs at the university.
Parker is also a tenured professor of history. She joined the Saint Leo faculty in August 2006 as an assistant professor of history and advanced through the teaching ranks. She has developed new courses in addition to teaching a variety of topics in history. Her specialty is American history. Additionally, she has also worked in administrative roles, first as chair of the Department of Social Sciences and then as associate dean of Arts and Sciences.
The College of Arts and Sciences influences the education of every undergraduate at Saint Leo University. That is because the college’s faculty teach the core liberal arts curriculum—called University Explorations—that provides the foundation of every four-year degree program and helps learners develop their skills in critical thinking, writing, numeracy and analysis, and capacity for reflection.
Majors offered through the College of Arts and Sciences include Saint Leo’s biology program, as well as ecology, medical humanities, mathematics, data science, psychology, sociology, political science, history, English, religion, theatre, and liberal studies (with some programs offered only at University Campus.) Minors are available in a broad variety of fields. And at the graduate level, faculty teach theology, creative writing, and psychology in master’s degree-level programs.
The College of Arts and Sciences also oversees the Bridge Program for international students and the 3 + 3 Accelerated Law Program, both at University Campus, as well as cultural programming. A number of concerts, performances, guest speakers, and interactive programs are arranged through the college to mark occasions such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Constitution Day, or the anniversary of the decade of the 1920s.
Parker said she is excited about building relationships with area organizations and institutions and inviting the larger community to come to the many performances, lectures, and programs offered by the College of Arts and Sciences throughout the year.
Beyond her administrative duties, Parker has remained active in her research. Her more recent work has concentrated on interethnic religious interaction and the political implications of these relationships in Florida in two ongoing projects: the East Pasco County African-American History Archive and the Community Memory Oral History Collection and Archive. She has also been researching the ways in which college administrations and faculty can provide effective mentoring for both traditional and non-traditional minority students. The result of this research is the Saint Leo Minority Mentoring Project.
The dean earned her BA, MA, and PhD in history from the University of California at Los Angeles, where she began her academic career examining interethnic political interaction in mid-20th-century Los Angeles.