Dr. Ian Marshall is Stockton University’s School of Arts and Humanities’ new Dean. He has about thirty years of combined experience in teaching and administrative positions within the field of English. Dr. Marshall’s goal within the Arts and Humanities is to further foster and grow the program to continue to give students the opportunities they expect. On Friday, October 14th, 2022, Marshall sat down with a representative from The Argo to discuss these matters in greater depth.
Marshall explained that individuals and experiences in his childhood shaped him to become so involved and intrigued with the Arts and Humanities. “I had two or three really big influences, my mother for example, who was born and raised in sort-of rural Jamaica, immigrated to the U.K. where she raised her family. [Marshall’s mother] really loved literature, she really didn’t get out of grade school but she could quote Hamlet and quote Shakespeare, so I have that in the back of my head and the Bible,” Marshall said.
“Then I had in primary school a really influential teacher, Mr. Foxly, who was a fascinating person because he knew all of Hercules and his labors… he knew Greek tragedy and also introduced us to William Wordsworth’s poetry, so I have Wordsworth poetry running around in my head from a really early age. So when I met Wordsworth and Shakespeare in the more formal setting of the grammar school… in secondary school, there was a kind of familiarity that was endearing to me,” Marshall said.
Dr. Marshall drew connections between these early influences, his decision to pursue an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in the field of English, and how these experiences prepared him for the role of Arts and Humanities Dean. “When I was a graduate student, I became a teaching assistant where I started teaching composition courses and that opened an avenue for me to sort of meet other teaching assistants in other areas [which] really opened the door for me to think a little more broadly about the importance of the arts and the humanities in an academic institution,” Marshall said.
When deciding to apply and accept the position at Stockton, Dr. Marshall highlighted some of the key aspects of the program that appealed to him. “The faculty is amazing here! The kinds of things that they’ve done with students from internship experiences, study abroad experiences, [and] the innovative and creative ways that they take their disciplines and they apply it in ways that are creative and imaginative. And Stockton University has a long history of [being a] very forward-thinking, progressive institution. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that,” Marshall said.
Dr. Marshall expressed a hope to accomplish a variety of professional and personal achievements during his time as the Dean of the Arts and Humanities. “What comes to mind most immediately is the professional satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped move the institution forward. [In] the Arts and the Humanities, as I think is true with a lot of higher education, people are now questioning whether or not it’s valuable to study these disciplines. In my mind, that should never be a question. The centrality of the Arts and Humanities to what it means to be a well-rounded individual is part of a person’s educational experience and should never really be a question,” Marshall said.
Dr. Marshall also touched upon the subject of misconceptions about choosing a career in the field of Arts and Humanities. “I would push back only in this regard, I don’t think that you have to choose between a life well lived with all of the comforts that money may afford and the pursuit of a degree in arts and humanities. [I would like to be able to] bust the myth that majoring in an Arts or Humanities degree means that you will not enjoy a life well-lived with all the money you might need or want. Very very successful people who have majored in these disciplines are quite wealthy and doing quite well,” Marshall said.
“That’s one of the questions you often get at things like open houses from parents who want to draw that direct line between what you study and a particular job, and the truth of the matter is the real world doesn’t work that way. One’s professional growth and development in one’s career path doesn’t often function like a laser beam. [For example] I studied this, to ensure that I will get that job, to ensure that I get that salary. Life is so much more complicated than that, and the truth is that you really have to tap into all of your experiences,” Marshall said.
Marshall stated that he looks forward to his first year working with students, staff, and faculty to get a sense of how he can best support the school of Arts and Humanities, and expressed his excitement to meet with faculty individually throughout the year to understand their needs and views of the state of the curriculum and program as well.