Throughout her career, including during her five years at Bridgewater State University, Dr. Paula Krebs has effectively fought to spread the word about the importance of the humanities.
Beginning August 1, the popular dean will be doing it as part of her new position as executive director of the Modern Language Association of America, based out of New York City.
The prestigious post will position Dr. Krebs well to continue her work in promoting the humanities.
“I’m really interested in doing public advocacy for the humanities and the idea of taking a national leadership role in that was very appealing,” she said.
In her new role, Dr. Krebs will be a public advocate, lobbying and working with other organizations on behalf of the humanities and, in a larger sense, fighting for those who work, teach and study in the various fields that comprise the humanities. She also will oversee a staff of more than 100, overseeing publishing, membership and conventions.
The dean has been active for her entire career with the MLA, including having served on its executive council. The organization was founded in 1883, and is the principal professional association for educators and scholars in the fields of language and literature. It is active in more than 100 countries.
In a note to the BSU community, President Frederick W. Clark Jr. said Dean Krebs is the right person for the job.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Paula to serve the membership of one of the most important and vibrant scholarly organizations in the academy,” he said. “In choosing Paula, the MLA has not only made an excellent decision, it has also recognized that a leader from a comprehensive, teaching-intensive public university like Bridgewater can serve the interests of faculty across a variety of disciplines and institution types, and advance an agenda that is both national and international in scope.”
Among the contributions President Clark attributed to Dr. Krebs' leadership were growing the faculty, advancing initiatives in the digital humanities, focusing college efforts on post-graduation student success, building consortia among the different segments of public higher education, advocating for a more flexible model of doctoral education, leading the creation of innovative and interdisciplinary academic programs, and working tirelessly to support students, faculty, and staff. She’s also overseen the development of new social science labs and emphasized the importance of reaching out to local employers.
“Paula’s passion for, and commitment to, the liberal arts is an example for all of us. It is an enduring contribution that will continue to influence Bridgewater State University into the future,” President Clark said.
Dr. Krebs said she takes up her new position at an important time.
“Humanities can be seen as under threat,” she said. “The new administration is looking to abolish the National Endowment for the Humanities.”
Creating an awareness about what the humanities mean at both the local and national level will constitute a key aspect of her new job.
“There are humanities events in local communities, run by your state affiliate (of the NEH),” she said. “They teach history, provide civic education, fund theater and the arts. It’s something that has bipartisan support in this country and it’s important to highlight that and keep the humanities in the public eye so politicians, employers and civic groups understand the need for it and its importance to the way we define ourselves as a nation.”
Lastly, Dr. Krebs emphasized that in our modern global economy the ability to speak other languages and understand other cultures and the impact they have has never been more important.
“And the MLA is the most important voice, I would argue, in supporting language education,” she said.
Her time at BSU will be remembered fondly, Dr. Krebs said.
“What’s so special about Bridgewater is there’s a real sense of mission about who our students are and getting them where they need to go. I got as much as I gave on this campus for sure,” she said. “I’m excited about taking what I’ve learned about students and faculty here to my new position.” (Story by John Winters, G ’11, University News & Media)