Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT’s Jessica Mallard to Retire; New Fine Arts and Humanities Dean to Be Named


CANYON, Texas — The longtime leader of West Texas A&M University’s Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities is retiring.

Dr. Jessica Mallard, who joined WT in 2002 and was named dean in 2012, will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year. Her successor will be named shortly, following a nationwide search.

“I work with great students, great faculty and great staff,” Mallard said. “When I was first thinking of taking the dean position, my husband Chuck said, ‘You’re one of the few people I know who wakes up excited to go to their job.’ And that’s still true.

“WT is a great place to work, a great atmosphere,” Mallard said. “I’m going to miss it.”

Likewise, she will be missed by the University.

“Dr. Mallard has provided important leadership through her various roles in the College, including her tenure as Dean,” said WT President Walter V. Wendler. “Jessica’s passion for the arts and humanities, along with her dedication to students, will leave an indelible mark on the College and WT. Her legacy will continue to inspire long after her well-deserved retirement.”

“Dean Mallard has been an uplifting force since the beginning of her service time as dean,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “The University community is grateful for Jessica’s commitment to students and her collaborative leadership approach during her tenure. We wish her and her husband, Charles, many years of happy, well-earned retirement.”

The Jessica Mallard Scholarship fund has been established in Mallard’s honor by the Office of Academic Affairs. A minimum of $1,000 will be given annually to one or more communication students beginning in fall 2024.

Mallard joined the University in 2002 as a faculty member in the Department of Communication. She later was named director of the William H. and Joyce Attebury Honors Program, then interim dean of the Harrington College in 2011.

“I think I’ve helped bring the College together,” Mallard said. “When I started, I got to know the faculty and found out what they needed. And to this day, when I interview faculty candidates, I tell them that the role of the dean is to help faculty and students be successful.”

During her tenure, Mallard oversaw the addition of eight new endowed professorships among her faculty, as well as added faculty positions in the Department of Art, Theatre and Dance. She also helped expand The Arts at WT Subscription Series, which showcases creativity around the College through a series of special events.

“We have earned national and international recognition in our School of Music, our Department of Art, Theatre and Dance, and our Department of Communication,” Mallard said. “I think The Texas A&M University System recognizes that and talks about us as the crown of the fine arts programs in the System.”

The College also includes the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages; the Department of History; and the Office of General Majors.

During her final year, Mallard oversaw 100 faculty members and more than 1,000 students across the College’s six academic areas.

In her spare time, Mallard has developed her own skills as an artisan, making both pottery and jewelry.

“Chuck and I are moving to Cosa Rica, and there’s a gift shop there that will sell my products,” Mallard said. “I’m open to new adventures. We just want to figure out what makes us happy.”

Recruiting the best faculty, staff, students and administrators, such as Mallard, is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised nearly $160 million.

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