Jump to main content

A Tale of Two Deans

September 5, 2023

UNC welcomes two new deans to its academic leadership ranks. Longtime UNC geography professor, teacher and scholar, Jim Doerner is the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) after serving as interim dean last year. Veteran dean, Ken Colwell, who joins us from the University of Houston-Victoria, is the dean of the Monfort College of Business.  

Jim Doerner
Jim Doerner

Doerner is the first new dean at HSS in eight years. His vision for the college is imbued with a need to address the current, growing speculation about the role and need for the humanities in the 21st century.   

A tireless champion of students, Doerner is committed to helping them find their passion and place. He says HSS is currently a “college of discovery” as students find their purpose while taking courses in the college and they get hooked. In the future, he would like HSS become a “college of destination.”   

“Historically, the humanities and social sciences were about the role of humans, how humans interact in the world,” explained Doerner. “Social scientists bring in problem-solving abilities, asking the right questions, analyzing data for some of the big societal issues we are facing and that they can address. Then you have people trained in the humanities, and what they bring to the table also addresses societal needs. I think that is the basis for going forward.” 

Meet Dean Doerner

Colwell brings 35 years of experience in industry and academia—including nearly 10 years as a dean—to his new role. Since his arrival to campus, he has been doing a great deal of listening and learning from faculty, staff, students, alumni and the UNC community as he shapes his vision for the college of business.  

Colwell was attracted to UNC’s status as an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), having served as dean at three HSIs and Minority Serving (MSI) institutions. With time spent at both private and public universities, Colwell prefers smaller public universities where he feels he can really make an impact on students’ lives.  

Ken Colwell
Ken Colwell

“MCB will be a business school to watch,” said Colwell. “Thanks to the tremendous investment and generosity by Dick Monfort, we have the resources to bring to bear on student success, career services, study abroad and more. That puts us head and shoulders above other business colleges.”

Meet Dean Colwell

Share UNC News