By George Tatoris
Maurice Hall, the current chairperson of the Department of Communication at Villanova University, spent two days in Ewing, N.J., for his interview for the position of Dean of the Arts and Communication at the College.
One evening, he spent about 20 minutes discussing the upcoming exhibit in the the College’s art gallery with a student. The student’s knowledge and passion impressed him beyond bounds.
“She was totally lost — in a very good way,” he said.
The experience was just one of a handful of things that struck Hall about the College.
According to an email sent out to students by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jacqueline Taylor on Jan. 9, Hall was appointed to the position of dean of the School of Arts and Communication, which will be effective July 1, 2017.
“(The deanship is) a job that is at the heart of a school that focuses on the liberal arts,” Hall said. “It integrates the arts with communication, which I think are both vital to both understanding the world in which we live currently and to giving students a really exceptional education.”
Hall will take over the position from Interim Dean James Day in July. Day took over shortly after the previous dean, John Laughton, retired at the end of the fall semester. Hall had first heard about the College from his students at Villanova who had siblings at the College or had applied here themselves. Hall said he has only heard good things.
“It’s a public university, but so many of its best teachers resemble those of very good liberal arts colleges,” Hall said.
To Hall, the job represented everything he enjoyed about schools.
As chairperson, Hall oversees the largest department in Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — almost 500 undergraduates study communication at the university. His work focuses on communication across cultures and within mixed organizations.
“Communicating effectively within diverse organizations and across cultures is vital in our increasingly heterogeneous and globalized society,” a summary of his work at Villanova’s website reads.
As chairperson, Hall — along with a bevy of other academics — implemented a university-wide program called Intergroup Relations, a non-credit course open to every student that aims to build an understanding between students of different social, economic, racial and ethnic groups.
Hall has consulted and taught on issues such as diversity training and strategic diversity management, conflict management, team building, cross-cultural communication and leadership training for national and international clients.
Before coming to Villanova, Hall worked as an assistant professor and graduate teaching assistant at Howard University, where he earned a doctorate, and as an instructor at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors.
Hall was raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica, which is just west of the capital of Kingston. He was born in Bradford, England, according to Patch.com. He moved to the U.S. in 1990 and has published numerous works since then.
Publications such as “Embodying the Postcolonial Life and Re-Constituting Place and Space: Culture and Communication in the Construction of a Jamaican Transnational Identity” discussed the identities and experiences that come with living in the Caribbean. The latter book earned Hall the Outstanding Book of the Year Award from the African American Communication Division at the National Communication Association in 2012.
Among the many things that struck Hall about the College was the physical beauty — he even admired the campus-wide construction.
“All (the construction projects) are good signals for the continuing development and evolution of the school,” Hall said.