Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


March 5, 2007

Thomas Named Associate Dean Of International Programs, Association President

In addition to being a distinguished professor and knight, Downing A. Thomas, professor and chair of the Department of French and Italian in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has recently added two more titles to his list of honors.

Thomas has been named the new associate dean of UI International Programs, effective immediately. And he was recently named president of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages.

As associate dean, Thomas will promote international scholarship and education across campus and in the community; supervise the academic centers, programs and grants office within International Programs; seek enhanced support for faculty research and creative work; and oversee the International Programs curricula, including the international studies undergraduate major and the master of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in international studies.

"I'm very pleased to join International Programs in what is a period of growth," Thomas said. "There's a lot to accomplish in terms of internationalizing the campus in the years to come. I hope to make International Programs, and things international in general, more visible on campus, and I want to help make the UI a primary destination for international scholars both at the graduate and undergraduate levels."

Thomas also said he is looking forward to working with colleagues in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and other participating colleges to further develop and sustain the international studies major, which has grown significantly since its inception in fall 2003 to currently rank in the top 10 undergraduate majors across the university.

William Reisinger, UI associate provost and dean of International Programs, stressed the range of relevant experience that Thomas brings to the position of associate dean.

"Downing has successfully combined outstanding scholarly productivity with teaching excellence and service to his department, the UI and several disciplinary associations," Reisinger said. "Through generous service in a variety of roles, he has obtained a strong grasp of the many different facets of IP's mission. IP and everyone it serves will benefit enormously from his energy, dedication and insight." 

Thomas succeeds Jane Desmond, UI associate professor of American Studies, who had held the post since 2004.

During Thomas' term as president of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, he plans to reexamine standards for promotion and tenure in the field of foreign language and literature, and to assemble a document on best practices for studying abroad. The document would help language departments work more productively with various campus constituencies who have a stake in study abroad.

The association puts department leaders in contact with peers and provides professional development opportunities. Membership includes 1,000 schools in the United States and Canada. The association's executive committee elected Thomas to the one-year term. His responsibilities include running biannual executive committee meetings in New York City and leading discussions via the association's listserv.

Thomas has served as chairman of the Department of French and Italian for seven years, a position he will retain until the end of this semester.

Thomas has focused his scholarship on early-modern French studies from 1600 to 1800, especially in the areas of music and opera, theories of language and aesthetics. Music and opera are central to his first two books, "Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime: 1647-1785." and "Music and the Origins of Language: Theories from the French Enlightenment."

Thomas received his doctorate in French Literature from New York University in 1991 and joined the UI faculty that year. He has served on the Regents' International Studies Committee and as a UI International Programs representative to the Internationalization Laboratory of the American Council on Education, and he has chaired the IP Strategic Planning Committee. In 2005, the French government honored him as Chevalier or Knight in the Order of Academic Palms. His salary as International Programs associate dean will remain $71,000.

International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge.

For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

For more information on the Association Of Departments Of Foreign Language, visit:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Joe Nugent, 319-335-2026,; Program: Downing Thomas, 319-335-2253,; Writers: Joe Nugent and Nicole Riehl.