UMass Amherst Anthropology Chair Named Dean of the Graduate School

Jacqueline Urla brings 30 years of experience to position
Jacqueline Urla
Jacqueline Urla

Jacqueline Urla, chair and professor of anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, has been named dean of the Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She will start Jan. 1.

The appointment was made by John McCarthy, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. Urla will succeed Barbara Krauthamer, who is now dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. Professor Elizabeth Jakob, associate dean of the Graduate School and professor of biology, has been serving as interim Graduate School dean since July 1 and will continue in that role until Urla begins in January. 

Commenting on Urla’s appointment, McCarthy said, “Urla is not only a highly accomplished scholar. She has been a wonderful chair of anthropology, increasing faculty and student diversity, supporting graduate students and leading efforts to repatriate Native American remains held in the university’s collections. I am delighted that she agreed to take on this important role.”

Urla is a linguistic and political anthropologist who has conducted long-term ethnographic research on Basque language and cultural politics. She teaches and writes about minority language revitalization in Europe, language ideology and power, visual anthropology, and the ethnography of grassroots cultural activism. Associate editor of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Urla is an active collaborator in a variety of multidisciplinary research projects exploring new speakers of minority languages in Spain.

Urla served as interim director of the film studies program from 2006 through 2008 and curated two editions of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, “Encuentros: New Cinema of Latin America and Spain” and “Africanicities: Conflict and Community,” featuring the visit of actor/activist Danny Glover. Her book “Reclaiming Basque: Language, Nation and Cultural Activism” was published by the University of Nevada Press in 2012 and she has published numerous articles and book chapters. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and she has been co-PI on five graduate students’ dissertation grants from NSF and the Wenner Gren Foundation.

Urla earned her B.A. in 1978 from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of California Berkeley. She joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 1990. She currently chairs six Ph.D. committees and has seen 12 Ph.D. students and 11 master’s students through to the completion of their degrees.