A 15-year resident of Ahwatukee Foothills, Neal A. Lester, who has served as dean of humanities at Arizona State University, has been appointed an associate vice president in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED).

In this capacity, he will be responsible for advancing humanities research and will continue to direct the university-wide Project Humanities.

In his new role, Lester will develop a strategic plan for the humanities at ASU, working with faculty and researchers to enhance funding and impact.

He also will assist in connecting the resources in Knowledge Enterprise Development with undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research initiatives. Under Lester’s leadership, Project Humanities was launched in February 2011, with the expressed goal to show the interactions among humanities and other areas of scholarship and human endeavor.

Lester has doctoral and master’s degrees in English from Vanderbilt University. His teaching and scholarship focus is on African American literary and cultural studies, including children’s literature, drama, folklore, and popular culture.

Lester has been a professor of English at ASU since 1997, serving as chair of the department from 2004-2010. He was named dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in August 2010.

Additionally, Lester is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of the Arizona Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lester was also recently selected by the alumni awards committee to receive the Achievement Award for the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of West Georgia, his alma mater.

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