New Dean of Humanities ready for the challenge

Douglas Kneale

"This is a great moment in Brock's history," says Douglas Kneale, new Dean of Humanities.

Every employee is excited about a new job. But Douglas Kneale has inherited a more active portfolio than most.

Starting work at Brock on July 1, Kneale is the new Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, a job guaranteed to be anything but boring.

He will oversee the Faculty moving in to the new Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts campus, hailed as a pivotal development for downtown St. Catharines. He will be Dean when Brock hosts the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in 2014, an event large enough to generate more than $10 million in economic spin-off for the Niagara region. He has a seat on the board for nGen, a Brock-partnered new media business incubator, and is involved in the planning of the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812.

Kneale also inherits a Faculty of actors, poets, linguists, philosophers and other disciplines spanning the broad range of academia.

But the former chair of the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) is undaunted.

“I’m delighted to be coming on board at a time like this,” he said.

Kneale comes to Brock from UWO, where he taught in the Department of English for 25 years, including five years as chair. His research includes Wordsworth, Milton, psychoanalysis and the history of rhetoric. He began his academic career as a UWO undergraduate student, initially studying natural science. He eventually obtained a PhD in English from the University of Toronto.

Kneale’s approach as Dean will be to keep his eye on the basics, which is Brock’s teaching and research missions. The university, he said, has been “boxing above its weight class” in both.

“If you keep your eye on those, everything else will fall into place,” he said.

A father of two, he enjoys reading for work and leisure, as well as cycling and hiking. “As a Wordsworthian,” he said. “I am more than a bit of a nature enthusiast.” For that reason, “I can’t wait to explore more of the escarpment.”

In the two weeks since he started work, he has been busy meeting people across campus and harnessing the learning curve as Dean. He recently got his first tour of the former Canada Hair Cloth building that is the future home of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. He sees it as a perfect combination of history and future possibility.

“The space is remarkable – the windows, the height of the ceiling, the hardwood floors,” he said. “There’ll be huge changes ahead, but this is a great moment in Brock’s history.”

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