Marla Miller and Pari Riahi Named Associate Deans for the College of Humanities & Fine Arts
Professor of History Marla Miller and Associate Professor of Architecture Pari Riahi have been named associate deans for the College of Humanities & Fine Arts (HFA) by Dean Joye Bowman. Miller assumes the role of associate dean for strategic initiatives, focused on collaborative efforts that further the college’s strategic plans, while Riahi’s role as associate dean of academic operations and infrastructure focuses on building relationships with staff and faculty and implementing and evaluating innovative programs in the college.
“Both Marla and Pari bring years of invaluable wisdom, leadership, and experience to our community, and I am thrilled to welcome them as associate deans,” says Bowman. “Their collective vision and passion will continue to support HFA’s longstanding commitment to fostering a thoughtful, creative, and intellectual environment where students and faculty thrive.”
As associate dean for strategic initiatives, Miller will advance collaborative efforts that support the College’s Strategic Plan. Initial projects will include a partnership with Historic Deerfield that explores the creation of a residential semester in the public or applied humanities and developing the College’s presence in campuswide conversations around healthy aging.
“I’m thrilled to be joining this dedicated team,” says Miller. “There is so much exciting work afoot across the College; the current strategic plan captures that great energy and dynamism, and signals countless opportunities and I’m eager to dig in and help HFA envision and plan for the future in ways that will help it continue to grow and flourish.”
Miller joined the Department of History as faculty in 1999. A prizewinning historian of U.S. women, work, and material culture, Miller has published four books, two edited collections, and numerous articles. As director of the public history program from 2002-21, she brings more than twenty years of experience in program development and community engagement to this new role.
She is an alumna of the 2019 HERS Leadership Institute and served as president of the National Council on Public History from 2018-20. In her public history practice, as an educator, and as the PI or co-PI on numerous grants and contracts, she has led on- and off-campus collaborations with a wide range of organizations, from local historical societies and commissions to a diverse array of museums and historic sites, several small and large scholarly and professional associations, and the National Park Service.
As associate dean of academic operations and infrastructure, Riahi will work with the dean on management of the College by implementing innovative workflows and programs and building relationships with staff and faculty members within the HFA community. Riahi will also evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs; develop and manage new ways to support faculty research; and bolster diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
“I hope to make more visible the multiplicity of approaches and significant achievements of our students, faculty, and staff across the college, to the university and beyond,” Riahi says. “There is a wealth of innovative teaching, significant research and creative work, as well as community-oriented activism and engagement across HFA and finding ways to support the existing and foster forthcoming projects is critical across the humanities and the fine arts.”
Riahi works across different media and formats in architecture to research and practice, both individually and in collaboration with others. Before joining the UMass Amherst Department of Architecture in 2016, she taught at Rhode Island School of Design for eight years. Riahi has published a book and an edited volume, as well as papers in journals in her field. She is currently working on two book projects and forthcoming edited volumes. Riahi has held solo and group exhibitions of her creative work and interdisciplinary collaborative research. Her work has received funding from National Science Foundation.
She was a Lily fellow in 2020-21 and received the College Outstanding Teaching Award in 2021. She serves on the advisory committee to the Journal of Society of Architectural Historians and is an international editor of the Journal of Architecture.