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Jim Doerner, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences

UNC Names New Humanities and Social Sciences Dean

The University of Northern Colorado announced that Jim Doerner will become the next dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).

The University of Northern Colorado announced that Jim Doerner, Ph.D., will become the next dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).  

Doerner is no stranger to the university or his new role, having started his career at UNC 29 years ago as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography of the university’s then College of Arts and Sciences. Since 1994, he has held positions as associate professor (2000-05), department chair (2001-05 and 2019-22), program coordinator (2005-07), professor (2005-present) and since July 2022, as interim dean. 

“We were fortunate to have many strong candidates interested in the position of dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Doerner rose to the top because of his maturity as a leader combined with his belief in the potential of the college and his ability to work collaboratively to realize that potential,” said Kirsten Fleming, executive vice president and provost. “I am confident that Dr. Doerner will help HSS be all that it can be in service to our students.”   

During his time at UNC Doerner has consistently demonstrated his commitment to shared governance, serving on Faculty Senate, the Board of Athletic Control, the General Education Council, the Interdisciplinary Studies Student-Designed Major committee and the Provost’s Task Force for Undergraduate Programs. At the college level, Doerner has also served on the Policy and Procedures Committee, the Environmental Studies Steering Committee and the HSS College Leadership Committee. 

As a leader in HSS, Doerner has collaborated with colleagues to update and revise curricula. While serving as chair, the Department of Geography, GIS and Sustainability launched two new Geography concentrations. In his eight months as interim dean, he approved two new certificate programs and has three additional certificates still under development. He has also begun planning for the future of the college, creating a new Academic Planning and Resources Committee tasked with developing a new mission and vision statement, as well as a revised strategic plan. It’s work that will set the stage for what he envisions is a more effective and collaborative process in deciding the college’s resource priorities moving forward. 

“I am honored to be selected as the next dean of HSS and welcome the opportunity and challenge,” Doerner said. “Our college is fortunate to have excellent faculty and staff deeply committed to our students' success. I firmly believe in the value of a liberal arts education. I am excited to work collaboratively with our departments to develop new and innovative curriculum that will best serve our students.” 

Doerner earned his master’s and Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Denver and his bachelor’s in Geography from Oklahoma State University. In addition to his 29 years of teaching experience and 15-plus years of academic and professional leadership, he served as past coordinator/co-coordinator of the Colorado Geographic Alliance, an organization supported by the National Geographic Society, which provides social studies teachers across the state with various education and funding opportunities. While at UNC he has served as the principal or co-principal investigator on external grants and contracts totaling over half a million dollars.  

Over the course of his career Doerner has been honored with the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (1999) and the Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award from the National Council for Geographic Education (2001), one of 10 awards given annually.  He also received the first College Scholar Award in HSS in 2006.  

Doerner begins his new role on April 1, 2023.

—written by Deanna Herbert 

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