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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Long Way from Home: Medieval Historian Makes Return to Georgetown

Next fall, Georgetown will welcome home a good friend, professor Jo Ann Moran Cruz. After completing her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and receiving her Masters and doctorate from Brandeis University, Moran Cruz became a Georgetown professor and eventually co-founded the Medieval Studies program. A leader in her field, she was featured in a History Channel special about the Black Death in 2006. She’s lived in the District for 30 years, but not without a few detours. She taught at theSFS campus in Doha, Qatar, and is now wrapping up her term as dean of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans. This fall she returns to the Hilltop to resume teaching.

How did you come to be a dean at Loyola University of New Orleans?

The search firm that was looking for a dean was [one] that I have worked with before, and they tend to take notice of people they think might be good in different positions, so they approached me while I was a professor here [in early 2008]. … The official beginning of my position was in January 2009, but I was there through the summer of 2008. I had a previous commitment to teach in Doha, so I couldn’t go there right away.

What courses have you taught at Georgetown, and do you know which ones you are teaching next semester?

I know I’m teaching the first part of “The History of the Middle Ages”[Hist 230], and I believe I’m teaching “History and Legend,” which Professor Stefan Zimmers has taught before.

As for your role as dean at Loyola, what are the greatest challenges?

The position of a dean is difficult, because the dean is, on the one hand, an advocate for the faculty; on the other hand, the dean is a member of the higher administration of the university, so you’re in this pivotal position. There are stresses and strains in being in that position.

What are the most rewarding qualities of being a dean?

For me, I was able to come to Loyola, and there was a [school] agenda of things I needed to do. New faculty needed to be hired [and] make sure all of the faculty governance was in place for the faculty as a whole, [as] there were budget problems throughout the university. This was all post-Katrina. There were also morale problems for the faculty there because… about 60 percent of all the faculty at Loyola lost their homes or had such severe damage to their homes that they couldn’t move back right away. Many faculty lost all of their research. Either they lost their computers, archives, labs… Quite a number of faculty left. … It was a difficult situation in 2008, and so from my perspective, one of the joys of it is that the faculty that I have worked with are absolutely wonderful people, and the administration has been supportive. Even though the work is hard, or has been time to time, the people on campus are wonderful. My own feeling about my time at Loyola is that it has been a gift to me.

Are you glad to be back at Georgetown?

I’m very glad to be back at Georgetown because I miss teaching. I did teach one of my favorite courses [at Loyola]: “Age of Dante.” … It was very difficult to teach a course and also be a dean. So I’ll be very happy to come back and be teaching, doing my research and writing.

Was there any point in your undergraduate or graduate career that made you want to become a historian?

It was a history course on the Middle Ages that I took in my junior year [at Harvard University]. But I was still, as an undergraduate, doing political theory in the government department. At the end of my junior year, or beginning of my senior year, I took a course on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, and that’s what set me in that direction.

Do you think students should consider careers in academia?

I highly recommend the life of a university professor. There are seasons to being an academic professor. You can really focus on research and writing. You can go into administration, as I’ve done from time to time. And you can, if you decide to, really focus on your teaching. It’s many lives fixed into one career.history

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