LATROBE, PA – Saint Vincent College president Father Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B., has announced the appointment of Dr. Elaine Bennett as dean of the College’s School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS).
Bennett has been a member of the Saint Vincent College faculty since 2011 and currently serves as chair of the College’s anthropology, public health and global engagement programs.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this role,” stated Bennett. “I look forward to helping coordinate and facilitate the work of our dedicated faculty so that we can best serve our students and provide them with a meaningful educational experience.”
“For more than a decade, Dr. Bennett has been an extremely dedicated and valuable part of our Saint Vincent community,” said Father Paul. “She is universally respected by her students and colleagues alike and I am confident that she will excel as dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. I look forward to working with her in this new role.”
Bennett joined the Saint Vincent faculty as a visiting professor of anthropology in January 2010 before being elevated to assistant professor of anthropology in August 2010 and associate professor of anthropology in 2016. The 2013 recipient of Saint Vincent College’s Quentin Schaut Faculty Award, which recognizes the contributions, leadership and achievement of a junior faculty member to the curriculum and life of the College, Bennett will continue to teach throughout her tenure as dean.
An applied medical anthropologist, Bennett’s scholarly work focuses on child health and nutrition in indigenous populations in Guatemala and she works with community-based organizations to develop, improve and evaluate maternal and child health programs. She has actively involved Saint Vincent students from a variety of programs in these projects and also carries out applied research projects with student research teams in collaboration with Saint Vincent College offices.
Along with overseeing the College’s anthropology program and launching both its public health minor program and the global engagement certificate program, Bennett has served in a number of roles within the College. She was recently elected president of the College’s Faculty Council and named chair of the Forward Together Advisory Committee, the advisory board for the Saint Vincent community for policies and procedures pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bennett serves as adviser to the College’s Public Health Club, Anime Club and its chapter of the Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honor Society and sits on the Academic Leadership Committee and the Scholarly Affairs Committee. Bennett’s previous committee service at SVC included the Educational Policies Committee, the Dale P. Latimer Library Planning Committee, the Academic Conference Committee, the First-Year Seminar Taskforce and the Catholic Relief Services Taskforce. She is also active in the Society for Applied Anthropology, currently serving as Associate Program Chair for the SfAA Annual Meeting. Bennett has also been active in writing and administering grants for curricular and program development from the US Department of Education and the Council of Independent Colleges
“I have had the opportunity to work with so many colleagues across departments and across different offices of the College over the last several years,” said Bennett, “and I really enjoy that kind of work. I enjoy facilitating moving people’s ideas forward, and this is a great opportunity to continue to do so while serving the college, serving our programs and serving our students.”
In her new role as dean, Bennett looks forward to working with faculty and administration in advancing all of the programs offered by the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and successfully integrating them into the College’s new core curriculum model.
“These programs represent some of the best kinds of holistic opportunities that Saint Vincent provides for its students,” she said. “I plan to work to promote these programs and work with our different departments to make sure that our really exciting, dynamic interdisciplinary programs are well-mapped into the core so that they can contribute to our students’ well-rounded development.
“I hope that in this capacity, my capabilities can serve the needs of the school, our faculty and our students. It’s very exciting.”
Bennett holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both anthropology and philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, graduating magna cum laude. She went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from Southern Connecticut University, earning its Outstanding M.P.H. Student Award, before earning a Master of Arts in anthropology at the University of Connecticut. In 2009, she completed her Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology from the University of Connecticut. Prior to joining the Saint Vincent faculty, Bennett served as a graduate teaching assistant and adjunct instructor in the University of Connecticut’s Anthropology Department (2004-09) and as an adjunct instructor in public health at Southern Connecticut State (2005).