Paul D'Anieri takes the reins of UF's largest college on July 1
His last name is pronounced Da-NYER-ee, but he won’t mind if you botch it. “My family doesn’t even agree on how to pronounce it,” said Paul J. D’Anieri, the new dean of UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
D’Anieri’s background includes learning several languages and living in various parts of the world prior to coming to Florida.
He grew up in Niskayuna, NY, near Albany and spent a month in Bochem, Germany, as an exchange student at the age of 16 after studying the German language for many years. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Michigan State, followed by a master’s and doctorate in government at Cornell University.
In 1991, he was hired as an associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas. After the Soviet Union collapsed, D’Anieri won a Fulbright Scholarship to Ukraine, where he picked up a third foreign language while working as a visiting scholar at L’viv State University. “The university where I worked in Ukraine had no money—no heat, no chalk, no textbooks—but they had fantastic students and faculty,” he said. “That’s what matters most.”
D’Anieri’s research centered on the international and domestic politics of the Soviet Union and, in addition to Germany and Ukraine, his studies have taken him to Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. “From the time I was fairly young, issues in the world were very prominent,” he said. “The Cold War was always in the news, always being discussed, and the fact my father designed nuclear reactors for naval ships made an impression.”
During the summer of 1998, D’Anieri was a visiting associate professor at Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute. He served as associate dean for International Programs at Kansas from 1999 to 2003, director of the Center for Russian and European Studies in 2003-2004, and associate dean of Humanities from 2004 until accepting his new position at UF.
“KU has been a great place for me,” he said. “I have great colleagues and friends, I love the institution and I love Lawrence, but I’m very excited about coming to UF and Gainesville.”
D’Anieri said what attracted him to CLAS was its rapidly improving academic reputation. What excites him most about his new position is the people with whom he will have the chance to work. “I met a lot of people when I was down there for that whirlwind interview process, and I came away feeling that, whether I got the position or not, I’d like to talk to them again,” he said. “CLAS is full of enthusiastic, bright people.”
He plans to spend his first year at UF getting to know the college, the university, and its people. D’Anieri believes his job is to help the various faculty and departments in the college excel, and he said his goal is to get the college back on the road to realizing its quest to become one of the top liberal arts and sciences colleges in the nation.
“I want Florida to be one of the schools that come to mind when people talk about the best public institutions in the country,” he said. “We’re so close. We might have taken a small step back recently, but we need to keep working toward that goal.”
D’Anieri’s first day on the job is July 1. He moved to Florida along with his wife, Laura, and five children, ages 11 to 20.
- Buffy Lockette