Meet the Dean
Dr. Joe Aistrup is the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and joins the Auburn family from Kansas State University, where he served as the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as professor of political science. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Dean Aistrup and learn more about his perspective as he begins his journey and maps out the future for the college.
Q: Dean Aistrup, would you tell us a little bit about your professional background, and where you are from?
A: I grew up in Winfield, KS in south central Kansas. I graduated from Fort Hays State University with a BA in Political Science and Communications. After that, I went to Virginia Tech for my MA and Indiana University for my Ph.D.
Q: What drew you to pursue a degree in Political Science? Is it still a passion of yours?
A: Three things drew me to Political Science. First, I had a driving passion for understanding politics and government that went beyond the reporting of these topics from a journalistic perspective. Second, I fell in love with the statistics and science side of political science. Finally, I had three professors who helped to point my intellectual curiosity toward political science. Without them, I would be still hauling hay in the summers.
Q: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
A: My dad. He taught me the value of hard work and loved to listen to baseball and watch the nightly news (in that order).
Q: Who/what inspires you?
A: I have many sources of inspiration, but these days, I am more inspired by students and faculty members who are the real leaders of our universities. Their drive, activities, and ingenious ideas inspire me to help create a better university that tears down barriers for students and faculty members and provides a supportive environment for a diversity of people and ideas.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I like to brew beer in my spare time. All types, but I really enjoy pale ales and IPAs.
Q: What do you look forward to most about being the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts?
A: Promoting a Liberal Arts education at a time when there are some who question its value.
Q: What are your plans and priorities for the College for the next few years?
A: I plan to focus on strengthening the college’s student-centered approach to our instructional mission; raising the national profile of our faculty members’ research and creative activities; promoting engagement with the people of Alabama and the rest of the world; and connecting with alumni and friends of the college and university to leverage their support for these academic missions.
Q: Why do you think a liberal arts education is important in this current job market?
A: A liberal arts education has never been more important. In the 21st century, the average person will have several occupations from the time they enter the workforce until they retire. Many of these occupations have not yet been invented but will emerge as technology and globalization continue to reshape our nation’s workforce. This means universities are not training students for a single career, but multiple careers.
Liberal Arts students are trained to think critically, adapt to new conditions, and work in an increasing diverse and global workforce. Now more than anytime in the past, a Liberal Arts education is a fundamental component to a student’s success later in life. We need to increase our emphasis on a Liberal Arts education, not decrease it.
Q: What are your impressions of Auburn so far?
A: Auburn is everything that I expected it to be and more. I expected the campus to be beautiful – it is. I expected the town to be friendly – it is. I expected the university to be full of outstanding students, faculty members and staff – it is. What sets Auburn University apart, making it a special place, is the dedication that all have to the university and a spirit of family and tradition that no other university can match.