Ford Named Interim Head of Department of English and Humanities

Dr. James Ford

Among the courses Dr. James Ford has taught during his tenure as a professor are humanities, philosophy, and logic.

So, when the previous head of Rogers State University’s Department of English and Humanities announced her departure, it was only logical for Dr. Ford to be named her successor.

“I’ve always loved what I’ve done here, both as a professor in the liberal arts and in the honors program, but last June, the department head Dr. Mary Mackie announced, somewhat unexpectedly, that she was going to be retiring,” Ford said. “We didn’t really have time to search for someone from the outside (of the department), and I was willing to take on the responsibilities, so it made sense that I would be the head of the department.”

Named interim department head in August 2022, Ford said his primary responsibility is to assist those within his department, ensuring they have the support and resources necessary to achieve their goals.

“Many of our courses are required, so our department sees everyone at some point, both in general education and then, in smaller, more focused groups for those who are pursuing liberal arts as their major or minor,” he said. “It’s my role to support everyone in the department, to help them reach their objectives and to work closely with the students the department encounters.”

Ford came to RSU in 2000 as an assistant professor. He became an associate professor in 2006 and professor in 2011. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religious studies (cum laude) from the University of Tulsa, a Master of Arts in religious studies from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in religious studies, also from Princeton.

In addition to his professorial and department head duties, he oversees RSU’s Academic Enrichment Programs, which includes the Honors Program, the President’s Leadership Class, various study abroad programs, and other special scholarships and research opportunities.

“The liberal arts degree has two halves. Students either go into English or humanities. It’s really the first interdisciplinary degree,” he said. “We certainly want to sustain that interdisciplinary focus. I think that’s tremendously important. Even though our degrees are in one area of English or humanities, most people in the department teach both sides of that, so we all work together to collaborate. Our students work together and are in classes with other students, so while some degrees are set up to be completely independent, that’s not the model we have here. We have a core of interdisciplinary classes that everyone is involved in.”

Ford said his vision for his department is to sustain a high standard and quality of education, helping to shape the graduates that are ready to enter not only the workforce, but the world.

“I want to continue to make sure our general education courses are as strong as they can be, that all the students who come to us learn to think well, to read well, to write well and to speak well. These are skills that go beyond a particular course but will help prepare a student for any job or graduate school,” he said. “We have an excellent faculty here. My role is to figure out how I can best help them be able to do what they want to do, what we all want to do, to help produce students who think critically, creatively, and independently, and who have the skills to work in all types of situations and communicate with all types of people.”

Dr. James Ford is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council. He is also a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council Assessment and Evaluation Committee, as well as a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council Teaching and Learning Committee. He has served as a judge for Best Paper in Religious Studies for the Alpha Chi National Conference and as a scholarship judge for Alpha Chi Region II.

At RSU, he has served as faculty chair, Maurice Meyer Lecture; director of the Honors Program; advisor for the Alpha Chi Honor Society; a member of the Capstone/BALA committee; a member of the CFA Realignment Task Force; faculty chair for Philosophy for the State Regents Transfer Matrix meeting; and more.

More information about RSU’s Department of English and Humanities.