Vassar Today

Vassar Welcomes New Dean of Faculty

By Corinne Militello '98

After an extensive search, Ronald A. Sharp has been named dean of the faculty and professor of English. Sharp, who graduated from Kalamazoo College, holds a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the University of Virginia. He began his post at Vassar on July 7th. He was, most recently, acting president and John Crowe Ransom professor of English at Kenyon College.

“I'm very excited about my new position at Vassar, which I have long considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country,” Sharp said. “The faculty, students, and administration are all first rate, and everyone has been wonderfully welcoming.”

Sharp is widely considered an expert on the 19th-century Romantic English poet John Keats, about whom Sharp has authored Keats, Skepticism, and the Religion of Beauty and The Persistence of Poetry: Bicentennial Essays on John Keats. He is currently working on a book about Keats and friendship.

“Ron is an outstanding scholar with a breadth of teaching, research, and administrative experience. He will bring a rich and varied background to the college. I could not be more pleased with the appointment,” said Vassar President Frances Fergusson.

In 1995, Sharp served as an organizer of the first major Keats research conference, which was attended by hundreds of Keats biographers, scholars, critics, teachers, and poets from around the world. The event was held at Harvard University and marked the bicentennial of the poet's birth.

In his many ventures outside of the study of Keats, Sharp is a former co-editor of The Kenyon Review (1978-1982), which he is credited with resurrecting in 1978 with Frederick Turner, who was then a fellow member of Kenyon's English department.

Also at Kenyon, Sharp directed numerous National Endowment for the Humanities seminars in literature for school teachers, and taught at a summer program for inner-city high school students who were being introduced to college.

Sharp has also authored Selected Poems of Michael S. Harper, Reading George Steiner (with Nathan A. Scott Jr.), and with the late novelist and short-story writer Eudora Welty, who became a close friend, he edited The Norton Book of Friendship.

Sharp said he and his wife Inese, co-director of Kenyon's Brown Family Environmental Center, find the Hudson Valley to be “a great attraction.” He continued: “It has the unusual advantage of being both beautiful and fascinating in itself and is very close to New York City. Coming from a tiny village in central Ohio, we are delighted to have so many amenities at our fingertips here.”