June 14, 2019


SUBJECT:    Appointment of Nancy Kwak as Director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities

I am pleased to announce Nancy Kwak, associate professor in the Department of History, has been appointed as the new director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities. The appointment is effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.

Hosted in the Division of Arts and Humanities, the Institute of Arts and Humanities encourages interdisciplinary research, teaching and public dialogue by underscoring the centrality of core arts and humanities disciplines. Home to 14 academic programs and key centers and initiatives, the institute generates projects that equip students, faculty and the wider public with the creativity, empathy and analysis for practicing a collaborative, and more equitable, human experience.

Currently serving as associate director, Nancy is succeeding Luis Alvarez, who has successfully served as the inaugural director for three years. Please join me in showing appreciation for his service and dedication to both launching as well as shepherding the Institute of Arts and Humanities through these important first moments.

A note from Luis Alvarez: “Nancy’s collaborative spirit, brilliant creativity and commitment to students will help propel the Institute of Arts and Humanities to new heights. As a stalwart believer in the power of arts and humanities to bring people together and change the world for the better, Nancy will ensure the institute continues to be an active leader on campus and in the larger San Diego community.”

Nancy Kwak is a UC Academic Senate Distinguished Teacher and has taught a wide range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. She supports multipronged ways to recruit and guide transfer students, including serving as the interim director of the division’s Preparing Accomplished Transfers to the Humanities, or PATH, program.

Nancy has been active on multiple university committees, including serving as chair for the Undergraduate Admissions committee in 2018-2019. She presently co-leads the Southern California Urban Group, an intellectual collaborative bringing together faculty across Southern California.

Additionally, Nancy is dedicated to providing internships and concrete career pathways to students, and has expressed interest in further developing undergraduate research opportunities for arts and humanities students.

While continuing to support successful initiatives already in place, Nancy has articulated goals for her time as director, such as expanding the theme of “arts and humanities for all” by emphasizing the importance of a “deeper literacy” in understanding communities, cultures and our own past. This would potentially include written texts, cultural productions and a wide range of artistic expression that underscore multifaceted approaches to exploring the human experience.

She has also indicated a potential for growth in the global dimensions of the institute, becoming more engaged with external partners while highlighting the strengths of the institute and university’s location, which sits on one of the world’s most dynamic international borders.

Of note is her commitment to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, and we look forward to her building more connections with underserved communities across the region during her time as director, which will see the institute physically take its place of prominence in the forthcoming North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Cristina Della Coletta
Dean, Division of Arts and Humanities