Humanities Division welcomes two new associate deans

Micah Perks
Gina Dent

The Humanities Division is pleased to welcome two new associate deans, both of them respected professors known for their advocacy for students and their excellence in teaching, research, and creative activity. 

Literature professor and Creative Writing Program director Micah Perks is the new associate dean of faculty affairs. Associate Professor of Feminist Studies Gina Dent is the inaugural associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Humanities Division. Both started their new positions on September 1st

The previous dean of faculty affairs was Kimberly Lau, literature professor at UCSC.

“I am grateful to Kim Lau for her tremendous contributions over the last year in her role as associate dean of faculty affairs, and am thrilled to work with Micah and Gina this year,” Humanities Dean Jasmine Alinder said. 

Micah Perks (MFA, Cornell University) has served as Kresge College co-provost, sat on the Committee on Educational Policy and the Committee for Affirmative Action and Diversity, twice chaired the Committee on Committees and vice-chaired the  system-wide Committee on Committees. 

Perks is the author of two novels, a short story collection, a memoir and many essays.  Her awards include an Independent Publishers Gold Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the New Guard Machigonne Short Story Prize, and fellowships at MacDowell and Blue Mountain Center. Her most recent novel was included in The Top Ten Books about the Apocalypse by The Guardian. She is working on a speculative novel, The Wood Between the Worlds.

Perks is excited to begin this new position. 

“I’m very interested in the position’s focus on climate and mentoring, recruitment and retention,” Perks said. “In my roles as Kresge College provost, director of Creative Writing, and chair of the Committee on Committees for the Academic Senate, I have worked energetically and passionately on these issues, particularly with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion. In all my roles at UCSC, my desire has been to create communities that get things done, to listen with respect and compassion, and for us all to have as much fun as possible in the process.”

Gina Dent (Ph.D., English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies. She received the Dizikes Faculty Teaching Award in the Humanities in 2019 and the Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity in 2007. Dent has served on six Senate committees and has chaired four of them, including the Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity [CAAD]. Dent conducted the campus’ first climate study of diversity, co-sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and CAAD, and served as the inaugural Senate Equity Advocate (2021-22). 

“I’m hoping to help build on some of the positive changes that are already being made in the division, thinking about identity taxation, rewarding various scholarly modalities including public-facing work, and encouraging the development of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies,” Dent said.

“I tend to work with, but also by challenging, conventional DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) frameworks,” Dent continued. “Meaningful transformation needs to be culture-shifting and community building, and requires a nuanced understanding of difference and support of those differences beyond state-protected categories and generalized understandings of race and gender.” 

“This year, I hope to work with each unit [in the division] on some of the difficulties—retention, recruitment, equitable distribution of labor—as well as assist in honing a forward-thinking vision that supports all of our members—faculty, staff, and students,” Dent said. “I am particularly interested in building an intellectual community that enhances staff participation and supports their development.”

Dent has a decades-long relationship to the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and served as the chair of the Advisory Committee and UCSC campus representative, as well as chair (or co-chair) of the program’s Arts & Humanities review panel. Currently, she is PI and co-director of the Visualizing Abolition project and Faculty Fellow at the UCSC Institute of the Arts and Sciences. She is the editor of Black Popular Culture ([1993] New York: The New Press, 1998) and co-author of Abolition. Feminism. Now. (Haymarket Books, 2022).

“In the Humanities division, we value advocacy for students,  teaching excellence,  and mentorship,” Humanities Dean Jasmine Alinder said. “Research innovation, equity, and growing a diverse faculty are equally important. Our new associate deans Micah Perks and Gina Dent will help us continue to attract and retain outstanding faculty and foster a strong sense of community in the Humanities division.” 

In addition to these two new associate deans, the Humanities division has named UCSC literature professor Sharon Kinoshita as interim associate dean of research and faculty director of the Humanities Institute. “I am working to continue to support and showcase the innovative research of our faculty and graduate and undergraduate students,” Kinoshita said.