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Dean of USC College Announced

Peter Starr to lead the College as university sets out on national search for permanent replacement

Dean of USC College Announced

On June 20, USC Provost C.L. Max Nikias announced that Peter Starr, professor of French and comparative literature, has been appointed dean of USC College on an interim basis, effective July 1.

Starr, who has served as dean of undergraduate programs in the College since July 2005, will succeed linguist Joseph Aoun, the 19th dean of the College and the inaugural holder of the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair.

Aoun will leave USC in August to become president of Northeastern University in Boston.

Starr will lead the College until USC President Steven B. Sample appoints Aoun’s permanent successor. A search committee appointed by the provost will lead a nationwide recruitment effort to fill the post.

“President Sample’s appointment of Peter Starr reflects how committed USC is to sustaining the dramatic growth of the College, which functions as the beating heart of USC,” Nikias said. “Professor Starr is an outstanding scholar and an accomplished administrator who has spent the past year working tirelessly to further improve the quality of undergraduate instruction across the College.”

As dean of undergraduate programs, Starr oversaw the College’s offices of admission, advising, general education and honors programs, among others. A member of Aoun’s leadership team, he was involved in much of the College decision-making for the past year.

“I see this new position as a tremendous opportunity,” Starr said. “We have a terrific team, and I’ve already become familiar with the scope of the College’s research and teaching missions.”

Under Starr, the College’s undergraduate programs office established the College Honors Society and, in partnership with the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and faculty members, created a slate of technology-literate fall course offerings as part of the new Core Multimedia program.

Starr recently published Commemorating Trauma (Fordham University Press, 2006), a study of the cultural impacts of the political unrest in Paris of 1870-71.

An avid cyclist and guitarist, Starr has been active in administration and university service for many years. He has chaired the department of comparative literature and the French and Italian department, served as president of the College Faculty Council and spent two terms on the executive board of the Academic Senate. He is a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Excellence in Teaching.

Starr joined the USC College faculty in 1985. Born and raised near Philadelphia, he attended Stanford University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s in humanities. He earned a master’s in French and a doctorate in comparative literature from Johns Hopkins University.

Starr plans to continue the momentum established under Aoun’s administration.

“Peter, along with his fellow deans, has done a magnificent job this past year,” Aoun said. “He has impressed me with his enthusiasm and vision for undergraduate programs, and I have great confidence that, under his guidance, the College will continue on its upward path.”

Said Starr, “Much of our agenda will be to consolidate the gains the College has already made under the inspired leadership of Dean Aoun. We’ll continue pushing in the direction we’ve been moving.”

Starr plans to continue strengthening College research and graduate initiatives. By summer’s end, he expects to wrap up the Senior Faculty Hiring Initiative, which Aoun began four years ago. The $100-million initiative to bring 100 world-class senior faculty members to the College has recruited 96 professors to date. “We’re also halfway through a capital campaign, so that will remain an area of intense focus,” Starr added.

Asked what attracted him to seek out administrative positions at USC, Starr grinned. “Conceptually, I find university administration very interesting. It’s a puzzle to solve – how do you take a complex organization and move it decisively forward? I think that’s fascinating.”