James Burns stands against the backdrop of a building with columns.

James Burns, Professor of History, has been appointed Associate Dean of graduate and undergraduate studies. Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

The College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities has named two new associate deans.

James Burns, Professor of History, has been appointed Associate Dean of graduate and undergraduate studies. Winifred Elysse Newman, Professor of Architecture, will serve as Associate Dean of research and academic affairs. The appointments were effective Dec. 15.

“The slate of internal candidates for the associate dean positions was exceptional, and it was reassuring to see how deep the bench of current and future leadership in the College is,” said Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean of the College. “I have already had the privilege of working with James Burns and Elysse Newman for the past few months, and so have a sense of how we will function together as a team. To borrow from Alexandre Dumas, it’s one for all and all for one.”

Burns will oversee the College’s academic programs, which serve 1,660 undergraduates, 289 master students and 77 doctoral students. He has been interim associate dean for academic affairs since January, succeeding Lee Morrissey, an English professor and former chair of the English department.

“CAAH has an outstanding reputation for research, teaching, and inclusive excellence, and I look forward to working with Dean Vazsonyi and the outstanding staff and faculty in the college to build on this tradition,” Burns said.

Burns earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Santa Barbara after earning degrees in history at UCLA and Cambridge University. He began teaching at Clemson in 1999, advanced to Professor in 2012 and was appointed chair of the history and geography department in 2015. He also teaches in the college’s interdisciplinary Pan African Studies program.

A specialist in African history and the social history of film, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Zimbabwe in 1995.

Burns is the author of Flickering Shadows: Cinema and Identity in Colonial Zimbabwe, which was named an outstanding academic title for 2002 by Choice magazine. His other books include Cinema and Society in the British Empire, 1895-1940 and the second edition of A History of Sub-Saharan Africa (Cambridge University Press), which he co-authored with Robert O. Collins.

He also has published many articles and book chapters about the intersections of film and colonial history in Africa and the British Empire.

At Clemson, Burns was awarded the University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award in 2019. He is a past recipient of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities teaching award, its Creativity Professorship and the John B. and Thelma A. Gentry Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.

Newman, as associate dean, will help advance the research activities and scholarship of the College’s 314 faculty members. Newman has served as acting Associate Dean since August after James Spencer was named Vice Provost and Dean for the Graduate School at Louisiana State University.

Winifred Elysse Newman is photographed looking out a window.

Winifred Elysse Newman, Professor of Architecture, will serve as Associate Dean of research and academic affairs. Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

“I am passionate about fostering and promoting the research and scholarship in the college,” Newman said. “My priorities are promoting the achievements of our faculty and creating opportunities for their success. Increasing the impact of their work, however, is more than singing the college’s praises – it increases awareness of the new intellectual landscapes they explore, worlds of human creativity they bring into focus, and contributions they make that improve how we live.”

The College takes an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the problems of the future, Newman said.

“The College is a model for how we can solve the challenges threatening our collective future,” she said. “We are facing rapid changes in every area of life on this planet and it is only by acting together that we can hope to address them in an informed, innovative and ethical way.”

Newman joined the faculty of the School of Architecture in August 2018 as the Homer Curtis Mickel and Leola Carter Mickel Endowed Chair in Architecture.

She earned her Ph.D. in architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design at Harvard University. Newman came to Clemson from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she was the head of the Department of Architecture in its Fay Jones School of Architecture.

Her research centers on designing responsive or “smart” homes and interactive environments to improve the quality of life for the elderly and people living with disabilities specifically, but also for the population in general.

Newman leads a team of specialized scholars at the Institute for Intelligent Materials, Systems and Environments, which grapples with architectural challenges of today and tomorrow. The institute is particularly focused on issues in the built environment such as sustainability and resiliency.