Nancy Ammerman, associate dean of the faculty for the social sciences in Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences, will be stepping down from the position at the end of the academic year.
Ammerman announced her retirement last year, giving CAS Dean Ann Cudd enough time to send out a description of the job to faculty who may have been interested in filling the position next year. After a series of interviews, Cudd chose Nazli Kibria, the current chair of the Department of Sociology, to replace Ammerman.
She began her work at BU in 2007, when she was asked to chair the Department of Sociology. She followed that stint by taking a year off from administration before becoming the director of graduate studies, a title she held for a year before joining the dean’s office three years ago.
One of Ammerman’s most important contributions in the past year and a half was chairing an ad hoc committee to produce a strategic report on diversity and inclusion, produced and submitted to Cudd in December.
“Nancy worked tirelessly to create a true community spirit and intellectual milieu in the department by earmarking regular funding for the department’s recently formed seminar series and by creating the Morris Lecture,” wrote Emily Barman, the associate dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, in an email.
Ammerman strengthened the department’s undergraduate teaching by reorganizing the course curriculum to make the department’s course offerings wider and more varied.
“She is an enormously talented sociologist of religion,” Cudd said of Ammerman. “She studies the sociology of congregations, communities of faith, she is joint appointed through the School of Theology and the College of Arts and Sciences and she has award winning books … She’s had an incredible research career.”
Several people who have worked with Ammerman at BU said her contributions to the university were valuable, and her presence will be missed.
“[Dean Ammerman’s contributions] can’t be encapsulated in a few words,” Cudd said. “She has been an enormously wise judge serving under my leadership team, helping to make strategic decisions about the college and helping faculty to align themselves with that and to communicate to us what their strengths and their needs and opportunities are so that we can help to further those.”
Ammerman said she plans to continue writing after putting off a particular book project for about three years that she hopes to finally start in earnest.
“I have been doing research and thinking a lot about what we call ‘lived religion,’ or everyday religion, and hope to write an introductory text to that concept,” she said.
With help over the past several years, Ammerman has developed a website for leaders and researchers who are interested in congregational life, which she plans to continue working on as well.
“I’m going to work in my garden, I’m going to go to the Y and I’m not going to go to so many meetings,” Ammerman said. “… I have some graduate students who are not finished with their dissertations yet, so I’ll be working with them for a few years.”