Cawthon appointed Dean, UTA College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Elisabeth Cawthon, current interim dean, has been named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Cawthon’s impact on the University stretches back to 1988, when she first joined UTA. In addition to serving as interim dean, Cawthon has been an undergraduate advisor, honors advisor, associate chair of the department of history and associate dean for academic affairs. She received The University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2012, recognizing her for exceptional teaching at the undergraduate level.  

One of Cawthon’s most impactful contributions to UTA is the founding of the College of Liberal Art’s Pre-Law Center, which provides resources for students considering law school and law-related careers. As founding director, Cawthon facilitated raising more than $700,000 for the Pre-Law Center. The center provides students opportunities to engage in extensive service learning, most notably with Legal Aid of North West Texas, and currently serves more than 500 students in varied majors throughout campus. Graduates have gone on to secure scholarships at top-ten law schools across the nation.

Cawthon also designed the center’s mentorship program, matching students with practicing attorneys, many of them UTA graduates working in fields of interest to the mentees.  While interim dean, Cawthon also introduced minors and certificates at the college to meet job market demands in growing fields such as 3-D design, gaming and new media communication.

“Dr. Cawthon is a proven leader who has already had a tremendous impact on the College of Liberal Arts,” said UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. “Under her leadership, the college launched new initiatives which increased cross-disciplinary collaboration among faculty members. She has strengthened existing programs as well as provided students opportunities to be creative thinkers and global leaders. Dr. Cawthon’s talent and passion will help the college’s students, faculty and staff soar to new heights.”

As dean, Cawthon will lead UTA’s fourth largest college, which has more than 4,500 students and 400 faculty members. The College of Liberal Arts has four centers, 13 departments and 47 majors under social sciences, humanities and fine arts. The college is home to graduate programs ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.

Cawthon has been instrumental in implementing the University’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions|Global Impact with a strong emphasis on grant-funded interdisciplinary research opportunities, a focus on digital humanities and big data. She is also expanding internships, service learning and study abroad opportunities for liberal arts students who want to connect with prospective employers and make an impact in their communities.

“Dr. Cawthon cares deeply about the entire student experience at UTA. She is committed to exposing students to rigorous coursework, valuable experiential learning opportunities and lively intellectual discussions led by top notch faculty,” said Teik C. Lim, UTA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.  “College of Liberal Arts graduates are creative, strategic thinkers who make an immediate impact on industry and the arts, which is a credit to Dr. Cawthon’s leadership.”

Cawthon is committed to recruiting and retaining world-class faculty members. During her time as interim dean, she launched a seed grant initiative providing $200,000 to faculty for interdisciplinary research projects.  The grants focused on Digital Arts and Humanities, Health and the Human Condition, and entrepreneurship and innovation, and have helped faculty secure external funding to expand their research such as the digitization of more than 500,000 pages of unique documents that record the history of the African diaspora in the seven oldest cities of Cuba.

"The College of Liberal Arts is an extremely diverse and energetic college within a dynamic institution,” Cawthon said. “It is an honor for me to have a role in guiding students, showcasing faculty, supporting staff, connecting with community and contributing to the university."

Wayne Watts, retired Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of AT&T, Inc., has been one of the Pre-Law Center’s biggest supporters since its inception.

“Elisabeth is a rare individual who is kind and generous as well as highly intellectual and remarkably determined,” Watts said. “She is a strong leader who is incredibly dedicated to her students. As a graduate of UTA, I applaud the university’s decision to elevate Elisabeth to Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. I am excited to watch the college and the Pre-Law Center continue to blossom.”

Cawthon received a bachelor of arts in history and political science from Louisiana Tech and a master of arts and Ph.D. in legal history from The University of Virginia. She is an expert in British and U.S. legal and constitutional history and a source of information for major media organizations.