Dr. Trey Berry has been named dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts at Southern Arkansas University.
With 20 years experience in higher education, Berry came to SAU from the Department of Arkansas Heritage where he served as deputy director for two years. He previously worked at Ouachita Baptist University from 1989 until 2007. While at OBU he was a professor of history, director of the Carl Goodson Honors Program and director of the Daniel R. Grant International Studies Program. He left Ouachita for the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he served as dean of social and behavioral sciences.
Although Berry enjoyed his role with the Department of Arkansas Heritage, working in higher education was his desire.
“I missed the energy and the innovation of higher education,” he said. “Most importantly, I missed working with students. I really wanted to get back in touch with the students.”
Although most of his duties at SAU will be on the administrative side of academics, Berry will connect with students in the classroom by teaching one course each semester. His first teaching assignment was “U.S. History to 1877,” a class he has taught many times before.
Those familiar with Berry’s teaching style know that he easily engages students with a cheerful, enthusiastic personality. He plans to use that same approach as an administrator.
“I try to be an encourager to the faculty,” he said. “When I met with them, I asked them to think outside the box … I asked them to be academic entrepreneurs, to always be thinking of new ways to do things.”
Berry said the College of Liberal and Performing Arts will be looking into new and more innovative ways to offer programs to engage students and aid in retention and graduation efforts. Some of these new ideas will lead to increased opportunities for students to learn in more non-traditional ways.
“I’m a big believer in educational experiences beyond the classroom,” he said.
These experiences may include increased opportunities for internships, research, travel-study opportunities, and study abroad programs. Berry is also working with faculty to institute a SAU-sponsored undergraduate research conference for students from across the Ark-La-Tex.
Expanding graduate programs in the College as well as obtaining endowed department chairs are among his current long-term goals. Endowed chairs provide travel and research funds for faculty members that are not made available by the University’s annual budget.
“It’s a commitment to the faculty to do those things,” he said.
Berry succeeded Dr. Ben Johnson as dean on August 1. Johnson has returned to the classroom full-time.