New dean aims to “maximize abilities”

James Beeby named as Liberal Arts Dean

As an Englishman, James Beeby has always been fascinated with America.

Provost Ron Rochon named Beeby the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts Friday.

He replaces former Liberal Arts Dean Michael Aakhus, who retired in December.

Beeby, who is originally from Northamptonshire, England, currently serves as chair of the History Department at Middle Tennessee State University.

“When I was growing up, America was the place everyone wanted to go,” the history professor said. “People would watch Woody Allen movies and listen to western and soul music.”

Beeby said a high school teacher helped him find his career path.

“He really mentored me and was wonderful,” he said. “I went to the same university he went to and fell in love with American history. That relationship between a mentor and a student is really important.”

Beeby loved American history so much he moved to Ohio for graduate school in 1993.

He worked at Indiana University Southeast for seven years before working at MTSU.

“I decided I wanted to come back to Indiana,” he said. “I really like living in this area of the country.”

Beeby plans to move to Evansville over the summer, just in time to step into his  new position July 1.

“Everyone’s been very welcoming and interested in me,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed.”

Beeby is married and has identical, 3-year-old twins named Guinevere and Rosamund.

“I like to cycle, bake cakes and travel a lot,” he said. “I love the Ohio River. (Indiana) has a lot to celebrate with beautiful outdoors.”

Beeby said one of his biggest passions is fostering interactions between students and professors.

“I’m about educating the whole person so they can maximize abilities,” he said. “My big job is to get everyone to be successful. Then I will feel successful.”

Beeby said he wants to work closely with faculty to see what issues they would like to address, as well as encourage them to conduct more research with undergraduate students.

He said he hopes students will feel comfortable talking to him whenever they want to.

“I have an open door,” Beeby said. “I’m easy-going and I will be there when (students) need me. I want to know how we can make things better because you can always make things better.”