In recent years, USF has attempted to make classrooms more globally oriented and Charles Adams, the newly appointed dean of the Honors College, said he wants to bring that focus to the Honors College.
On Wednesday, university officials announced Adams would replace the former dean of the college, Stuart Silverman, who held the position for nearly 27 years. Adams is currently the director of international education and an English professor at the University of Arkansas.
Even at a young age, Adams said he was always thinking of the world in a larger context.
His father worked for a large corporation and Adams spent much of his time traveling with him and living all over the world. The longest he ever stayed in one place as a child was when he spent six years in London.
“Living in foreign places and doing international travel was in my blood by the time I got to college,” Adams said. “So when I went into literary studies I was interested all along in figures that helped to span international gaps.”
Throughout his life, Adams learned to speak French and Spanish and picked up German as a Fulbright professor of American Studies in Germany.
Adams began his career as an administrator when he moved from professor to head of the English department at UA. From there, he became an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and oversaw a number of international programs, including the university’s International Education and the Asian Studies Program.
“Dr. Adams is uniquely qualified to enhance USF’s global reach and help our students excel academically,” USF President Judy Genshaft said. “His innovative spirit and passion for learning will have a significant impact on our students and our institution.”
For some, his transition from English professor to administrator of international programs might seem odd, but Adams said it was something his personal experiences and studies had prepared him for.
“I have no academic credentials in that area, but I was asked to take on those programs for administrative reasons,” he said. “They suited me because I’m interested in international studies in general. There has been a theme all the way through my career of international interests.”
As the new dean of the Honors College, Adams said he wants to bring his passion for international studies to the students.
He said he has three main goals he hopes to pursue in the coming years: student success, community engagement and a global education.
In addition to ensuring students graduate on time, Adams said he wants honors college students to be successful in the fast-paced, global world they will become a part of after graduation.
“The world is changing in a hurry,” Adams said. “In the past 15 years we’ve seen enormous changes in the way we get information and the way we communicate. We have no idea where this is going or what the world will look like in another 15 years, but we do know the basic talents, skills and abilities … that will last long beyond just what’s happening in a physics class or an English class here on campus.”
One way Adams hopes to prepare honors students is by ensuring they have a more globally oriented education, both through their classes and by offering more study abroad opportunities.
“I want to get honors students to mingle more with international students and to understand what it means to communicate across cultural barriers and the kinds of challenges and opportunities that lie there,” he said. “This is the global century and students must be prepared … in how to live in a global society.”
Adams said he also plans to create more internships and service learning programs to get honors students out into the community.
“It’s important for students to understand and feel how higher education can contribute to their society, to their city, to their region,” he said.
At the end of the summer semester, when he officially begins at USF on Aug. 4, Adams will make the move to Tampa with his wife, Rhonda.
Though he admits he has never had the responsibility of calling out thousands of names at a graduation, Adams said he is excited to be a part of such a large honors program and expand upon the role of Silverman.
“Dean Silverman has done a wonderful job building the foundation here,” Adams said. “In some administrative jobs, when you bring someone in from the outside, it might be because something’s broken and needs fixing. That’s not what we have here. The foundation is strong and what I have is the opportunity to build on that foundation.”
USF will have a reception for students and staff to meet Adams today at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Fame room of the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center.