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Cherisse Jones-Branch Appointed Graduate School Dean


JONESBORO – Vaughn Endowed Professor of History Cherisse Jones-Branch has been named Graduate School Dean at Arkansas State University, Provost Alan Utter announced today.

Jones-Branch accepted the appointment which will re-establish the position of dean and the Graduate School at A-State.  She will begin her new assignment with the start of the next academic year on July 1, 2020.  Incoming Dean Jones-Branch and the Graduate School will be located on the sixth floor of the Dean B. Ellis Library.

“I am extremely pleased that Dr. Jones-Branch has accepted our offer,” Utter said.  “I was very impressed with her scholarly record as a faculty member, and her experience in research and mentoring students speaks for itself.  She has tremendous leadership skills and the respect of her colleagues on campus, and she has received a number of scholarly honors and awards.  During the process, I was impressed with her communication skills.”

“I want to echo Dr. Utter’s sentiments and thank Dr. Jones-Branch for stepping into this position for Arkansas State,” Chancellor Kelly Damphousse added.  “I’ve heard lots of positive feedback about her candidacy, and her relationships on campus combined with her skills as a communicator and leader will be important as the university re-establishes its Graduate School.”

“It is an honor to be named the Graduate School Dean at A-State,” Jones-Branch said.  “I am very excited about working with the campus community to rebuild our graduate school.  I especially and most importantly look forward to continuing to support our students in an even greater capacity as they pursue their graduate degrees.”

During a previous administrative reorganization, the tasks and responsibilities of a centralized graduate dean were distributed to the respective colleges and schools with graduate degree programs.

“One of the first things I learned when I came to Arkansas State three years ago was the desire of many faculty to see the graduate dean’s position return,” Damphousse said.  “With a growing graduate enrollment and our recent reclassification to Carnegie Research 2, it was time to bring back this important academic administrative position Now we begin the important task of reconstituting the Graduate College, and continuing to keep our promises to our graduate students and their professors.”

Jones-Branch joined the A-State History Department faculty in 2003, and was promoted to associate professor in 2009.  She became the inaugural James E. and Wanda Lee Vaughn Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2017.  She was the assistant chair for the History Department from 2009 to 2014, and has received numerous university awards including outstanding faculty service award, the faculty research award, and most recently, the Vaughn endowed position.

She most recently co-edited Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times, published in 2018 by the University of Georgia Press.  She also published Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina During and After World War II, in 2014 with the University of Florida Press. Jones-Branch’s next monograph, Better Living By Their Own Bootstraps: Rural Black Women’s Activism in Arkansas, 1913-1965, is forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press.

“The comments from her peers that I received during the feedback process reinforced my opinions and those of the committee,” Utter said.  “If there was a common theme, it was that her scholarly work was robust, her years of dedication to mentoring students prepared her for this type of leadership role, and she is engaged professionally with the community and with professional organizations.  One characterized her as ‘a true academic who understands the needs for rigor and quality in graduate programs and instruction.’”

A Persian Gulf War veteran, Jones-Branch served in the U.S. Army in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a member of the North Charleston, South Carolina-based 941st Transportation Company.

“Her military background is an additional strength as she can relate to our large number of active duty and veteran students,” Utter added.  “At the same time, her communication skills and background makes her extremely relatable to the student body.  She has a track record of service that meets the needs of the university above all and understands the needs of our graduate students.”

Jones-Branch received her bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston in 1994, then earned her master’s at the University of Charleston in 1997.  She received her Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University in 2003.

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Cherisse Jones-Branch
Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch