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Vasti Torres, Rebecca Spang accept interim leadership positions

Vasti Torres, left, and Rebecca Spang. Photos courtesy of the Office of the Provost and Executive... Vasti Torres, left, and Rebecca Spang. Photos courtesy of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. Two Indiana University Bloomington leaders have been named to interim positions effective this summer.

Vasti Torres, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies and executive associate dean at the School of Education at IU Bloomington, has been named interim vice provost for undergraduate education. Rebecca Spang, Ruth N. Halls Professor in the Department of History, has been named interim dean of the Hutton Honors College.

Torres succeeds Dennis Groth, who became vice provost in 2013 following four years as associate vice provost for undergraduate education. Groth, a professor in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, will return to the faculty effective June 30.

“I’m beyond excited that Vasti Torres has agreed to serve as interim vice provost for undergraduate education as we launch several initiatives designed to ensure every student is positioned to reach their full academic potential,” IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Rahul Shrivastav said. “She will bring to this role a wide range of experience leading student success initiatives, developing innovative pedagogy, mentoring student scholars and producing student-focused scholarship.”

The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education leads programs and initiatives focused on providing outstanding academic experiences for all IU Bloomington undergraduate students. The office supports students at all stages of their college career and beyond — including pre-college programs, a wide number of initiatives that support undergraduate academic success and resources to help students prepare for professional life after college.

Torres held several positions during her first stint at IU Bloomington from 2003 to 2013, including program chair for the graduate program in higher education and student affairs, director of Project on Academic Success and director of the Center for Postsecondary Research. She returned to IU Bloomington in 2020 as professor and chair of educational leadership and policy studies. In 2021, she became executive associate dean of the School of Education.

“As a scholar, I am excited that I have the opportunity to apply what I have learned from my research to influence practices and help IU students be more successful,” Torres said. “This position will allow me to use experiences from other past positions and to make a difference for IU.”

Spang succeeds Andrea Ciccarelli, who began serving as dean in 2014 and will return to faculty as Provost Professor of French and Italian.

“I am overjoyed that Rebecca Spang will lead the Honors College through this period of exceptional opportunity,” Shrivastav said. “With her incredible record of excellence in research, teaching and leadership, I am confident she will push the boundaries of how creatively and fully we can support student success and fulfillment through the Honors College.”

The Hutton Honors College strives to ensure a rich student experience — both academic and social — by providing students with clear opportunities to enjoy both the intimacy of a small college and the breadth of a large, pluralistic and distinguished research institution. These opportunities include competitive scholarships, challenging honors courses, honors residential communities, advising, study abroad experiences, a variety of grants and frequent events featuring distinguished campus visitors.

As part of a broader effort to align units for the highest degree of student success, Hutton Honors College will soon report directly to the provost, and the dean will join the campus leadership team. It will also expand to oversee major scholarship programs for IU’s highest achieving students. This reorientation is expected to increase the visibility of the Hutton Honors College and redouble efforts to attract and foster the success of the brightest students from across Indiana and around the world.

“I am so excited to work with and for the most highly motivated undergraduates from all across campus,” Spang said. “This really is the perfect position for me. A colleague once said of my teaching that I ‘set the bar high, and then help students over it,’ and that’s what the Honors College ought to be doing.”

Recognized as a leading historian of the French Revolution, Spang directed the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies from 2013 to 2022 and edited its journal, The Workshop. She has also served in dozens of institutional and departmental roles, including director of the Liberal Arts + Management Program, director of the Department of History’s Undergraduate Honors Program and member of the Student Conduct Code Hearing Commission.

Most recently, Spang was named a Distinguished Professor, the most prestigious appointment offered to honor IU faculty, and selected as a 2023 New America National Fellow and a 2022-23 Guggenheim Fellow.