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New Loyola dean rolls up sleeves in New Orleans after semester in Qatar

Loyola press release - January 12, 2009

The new dean of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans, Jo Ann Moran Cruz, began her tenure here last week after wrapping up a semester-long teaching assignment in Doha, Qatar for Georgetown University.

There will a reception in her honor on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 5 p.m., in the Collins C. Diboll Art Gallery located on the fourth floor of the Monroe Library.

Cruz was part of an initial team that travelled to Doha in 2004 to explore the possibility of putting Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service into Education City, a conglomeration of programs from a variety of American educational institutions established by the Qatar Foundation.

“The response of the initial team was very enthusiastic. The following June, a group of us began to recruit and interview students and to set up the infrastructure of the program, which then opened in the fall of 2005,” said Cruz. “Since then, I have remained in touch, going there for the inauguration of the program and for conferences, with a standing offer to teach.”

While in Qatar, Cruz gained an expanding knowledge of the Middle East and of the opportunities and pitfalls of international education. As an administrator and faculty spokesperson, she worked to move the school toward becoming a tenure home, allowing faculty on three-year contracts to move into tenure-track positions.

Additionally, Cruz taught courses in European civilization and a course on E.M. Forster. She also continued work on her book, “Religion and the Legitimacy of the Political Authority in the Christian and Muslim Worlds.”

A medieval and early modern European history scholar at Georgetown University since 1978, Cruz brings a wealth of expertise in the areas of European civilization, history of women in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Reformation. She also has studied perceptions of Islam in medieval Europe and written on comparative Christian and Islamic topics.

She is the author of a prize-winning book, “The Growth of English Schooling 1340-1548: Learning, Literacy and Laicization in pre-Reformation York Diocese.” In addition, she has written a textbook in her field and published articles on medieval education, literacy, social mobility, medieval French literature, Dante and E.M. Forster.

Cruz’ experience and expertise teaching on faculties in Turkey, Italy, Egypt, Chile and Qatar will help her contribute to actualizing Loyola’s mission of internationalization, she said.

“I come from an interdisciplinary background in medieval studies,” Cruz said. “Loyola already offers a foundation in interdisciplinary studies and its common curriculum allows students to explore and learn from numerous disciplines while simultaneously gaining expertise in the area of their choice through a major. This effort to integrate the sciences and the humanities and disciplinary strengths with interdisciplinary awareness is part of a Jesuit ideal that I look forward to supporting.”

Cruz received her doctorate degree in medieval and early modern European history, with a focus on England from Brandeis University. Cruz also has a master’s degree in history from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s degree in political theory from Harvard University.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.