Austin College President Steven P. O’Day recently announced Elizabeth A. Gill has been named vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty at the school after an extensive national search. Gill will begin her duties at Austin College on Aug. 6, and David Griffith, professor of business administration and dean of Social Sciences, will continue his role as interim vice president until she arrives on campus.
Reporting to the president and serving as a member of the senior leadership team, Gill will provide collaborative academic leadership for faculty, academic staff, and students.
“I am confident Dr. Gill’s leadership and academic experience will serve her well here and bring continued strength to the guidance of our academic programs,” O’Day said in a press release. “Her commitment to an education in the liberal arts and sciences and to the promotion of the values that education offers students will add another energizing voice to curricular discussion and decisions. She also understands well Austin College’s dedication to student-centered community. I look forward to working with her in the years to come.”
Since 2016, Gill has served as dean of Arts and Sciences at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and provided leadership, review, assessment and budget oversight for 39 departments, three graduate programs, and more than 130 full-time faculty. In addition to leading significant work within these academic departments, she worked with external constituencies to create articulation and consortium agreements, developed policies and programs to enhance faculty development, and forged external partnerships to foster support for student and faculty projects. She sat on committees for strategic planning, budgets, faculty status, academic program review, core curriculum and assessment outcomes.
Though more recent experiences have been on the East Coast, Gill earned her bachelor’s degree at Trinity University in Texas. She said she looks forward to new experiences at Austin College.
“Both figuratively and literally, I am thrilled be coming home to Texas to become a collaborative member of an institution and a community that resonates with my deepest-held values and beliefs,” Gill said. “Austin College’s holistic, student-centered liberal arts education fuels lives of purpose and creativity, empowering students to thrive in a rapidly changing world, by combining liberal arts and skills-based development with civic and social engagement and personal growth. The variety and transformative intentionality of educational experiences at Austin College affords students opportunities to discover a way of life that draws from them their most passionate response, transforming their personal ambitions into great desires for the promotion of justice and the common good, while equipping them with the values and intellectual and practical skills to succeed in the 21st century.”
Allison McBee Dawson, Austin College’s vice president for Institutional Advancement, served as chair of the search committee that brought Gill to campus.
“During our interviews with Beth, her passion for the liberal arts was evident — and it became equally clear that she is well-suited for both aspects of the position here: vice president and dean of the faculty,” Dawson said. “We have seen the strategic capacity she brings to the senior leadership team as well as support of the advocacy she offers on behalf of faculty interests.”
Prior to taking the dean’s position at Canisius College, Gill had served as acting dean of Academic Affairs at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. She had enjoyed a 20-year tenure at Randolph Macon, where she held the Charles J. Potts Chair of the Social Sciences. A sociologist, her course offerings included disciplinary, interdisciplinary, experiential, travel, and research-based experiences, and she chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for 16 years. She has authored and co-authored numerous articles, edited book chapters, and made national and international presentations on death and dying, the family, human rights, mindfulness and social justice, pragmatism, and military suicide, all of which examine the effects of the organizational context upon an individual’s life.
Gill earned a master’s degree in medical sociology at Yale University and holds a doctorate in organizational/historical comparative sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. She was an American Council on Education Fellow at DePaul University, where she participated in institutional projects involving enrollment management strategies, programs and initiatives; online learning policies and approaches; institutional development and fundraising; diversity recruitment and retention; and alternative business models for higher education.
Austin College is a private national liberal arts college founded in 1849. It is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under its original name and charter.