Leading the Charge
Terri Peretti assumes the role of interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the 2019-2020 academic year.
by Ally O’Connor ’20
Stepping into the College of Arts and Sciences dean role for the second time in her Santa Clara University tenure, Professor Terri Peretti (Political Science) will again lead the College toward its “exciting future.”
A strong history in political science, Peretti earned her undergraduate degree in the field at the University of Kansas as well as her Master’s and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. In 1988, she began her first job at SCU as acting assistant professor in the Political Science Department. Thirty-one years later, Peretti has held the title of both professor and chair of the department, and served as an associate dean, acting dean, and now interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
When asked why she has stayed at SCU for so long, Peretti notes that the “strong sense of community and ability to have a balance between teaching and scholarship” have been exceptional benefits. According to Peretti, “Santa Clara has a teacher-scholar model that definitely fits with what motivates me and where my passions are. And of course, I love my students and the community of scholars we have here.”
Following her work as acting dean in the 2014-2015 academic year, Peretti explains that she feels more comfortable stepping into the significant role again—“I know a lot about the college and how it works; I am familiar with the staff, and know that they are a great team.” However, she also shares that there have been changes and new focuses since her last period of time in an administrative role.
“One thing that will be new for me is the external relations side,” she shares. “In the past, we focused much more internally on operational matters, but increasingly, deans, provosts, and presidents have to look beyond our campus. We have to make sure that we have strong partnerships with the community and ensure that we get the support we need to run our many great programs.”
In addition to this newer external focus, Peretti has found a great interest in two of the College’s newer initiatives: the REAL Program, which provides paid internships to students across multiple disciplines; and SCU’s De Novo Fellowship Program, a collaboration between the College and the School of Engineering which aims to broaden representation of students in STEM by funding their work with faculty mentors on exciting research projects.
When asked about her most important responsibilities as interim dean, Peretti says that hiring and retaining talented faculty is key. Within this academic year, the College of Arts and Sciences plans to hire eighteen new faculty members across ten departments.
As the search begins for the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Peretti is happy to step into the interim role and promises that she is “committed to working collaboratively with faculty, staff, and students.” She shares that she does not want her year as interim dean to feel like a transition period. Rather, as Santa Clara University experiences change in leadership at the highest levels, Peretti encourages the community to be excited about a time of new ideas and a bright future.