Clarence Lang will become the dean of Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, effective July 1.
He will replace Susan Welch, who will step down as dean at the end of June following 28 years in the role. Welch previously announced plans to leave the post and return to a faculty role.
“I am honored to succeed Dean Susan Welch in this role, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to build on the rich legacy she has created in her commitment to producing lifelong learners, critically informed decision-makers, ethical decision-makers and fully rounded human beings,” Lang said in a release. “I look forward to helping advance the university’s priorities in the arts and humanities, research excellence, and digital innovation.”
Lang currently serves as the interim dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas, where he’s been a faculty member since 2011. He is also the Dean’s Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of African and African-American Studies (AAAS) and a professor of American studies. He has served as chair of AAAS, acting/interim director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, a senior administrative fellow in the Office of the Provost, and co-chair of the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group.
He has remained active in the campus community at Kansas, serving as the acting director of graduate studies in American studies, president of the Black Faculty and Staff Council, a McNair Scholars mentor, and a member of the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Committee and Bill Tuttle Distinguished Lecture in American Studies Committee.
Lang earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, his master’s in history from Southern Illinois University, and his doctorate in history from the University of Illinois. He later joined the faculty at Illinois in the departments of history and African-American studies before beginning his tenure at Kansas.
Lang’s research focuses on black social movements in the 20th century United States, African-American labor and working-class history, and black communities in the urban Midwest.
“Dr. Lang is both a distinguished scholar and a committed leader in higher education,” Provost Nick Jones said in a release. “We are very excited that he is joining Penn State, and will continue to elevate our College of the Liberal Arts to new levels of pre-eminence by driving national leadership in its academic departments, expanding the impacts of its interdisciplinary centers and institutes, and ensuring that our students have unparalleled educational experiences.”