UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Clarence Lang, interim dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas, has been named the Dean of the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, effective July 1.

“Dr. Lang is both a distinguished scholar and a committed leader in higher education,” said Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones. “We are very excited that he is joining Penn State, and will continue to elevate our College of the Liberal Arts to new levels of pre-eminence by driving national leadership in its academic departments, expanding the impacts of its interdisciplinary centers and institutes, and ensuring that our students have unparalleled educational experiences.”

Lang takes over for Susan Welch, who stepped down as dean in 2018. “I am honored to succeed Dean Susan Welch in this role, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to build on the rich legacy she has created in her commitment to producing lifelong learners, critically informed decision-makers, ethical decision-makers and fully rounded human beings,” Lang said. “I look forward to helping advance the University’s priorities in the arts and humanities, research excellence and digital innovation.”

He continued, “Based on my experiences at the University of Kansas, I’m also interested in the work of preparing undergraduate and graduate students for multiple and diverse careers, enhancing faculty development and a culture of staff recognition, collaborating closely with the college’s alumni relations and development team, and promoting an inclusive learning and work environment defined by empathy and care.”

Lang has been part of the Kansas faculty since 2011. In addition to being interim dean, he is the Dean’s Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of African and African-American Studies (AAAS) and a professor of American studies. He has served as chair of AAAS; acting/interim director of the Hall Center for the Humanities; a senior administrative fellow in the Office of the Provost; and co-chair of the university’s Diversity,
Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group.

An active member of the University of Kansas community, he has been acting director of graduate studies in American studies, president of the Black Faculty and Staff Council, a McNair Scholars mentor, and a member of the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Committee and Bill Tuttle Distinguished Lecture in American Studies Committee. 

Lang’s research focuses on black social movements in the 20th century United States; African-American labor and working-class history; and black communities in the urban Midwest. He has authored two books: “Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics and Black Freedom Struggles in St. Louis, 1936-75,” and “Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties: Notes on the Civil Rights Movement, Neoliberalism and Politics.” 

Lang’s research and essays have been published in the Journal of African-American History, Journal of Social History, Journal of Urban History, Race & Society, New Politics, The Chronicle of Higher Education, American Studies Journal, LaborOnline, and Critical Sociology.

Before joining the University of Kansas, he was a faculty member in the departments of African-American Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois, Lang was a Helen Corley Petit Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a faculty fellow with the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Lang received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, his master’s in history from Southern Illinois University, and his doctorate in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.