Professor Gabriella Scarlatta’s academic experience spans both distance and time.
Scarlatta’s collegiate journey took her to three different countries — Italy, France and the U.S. — where she earned degrees from the Université de Savoie in France and Wayne State University in Detroit.
Her research transports her to 16th century Europe, where she reads 500-year old primary-source documents in French and Italian. Currently, she is researching documents on Renée of France, the daughter of King Louis XII, the first being published this month.
As a campus professor and leader today, Scarlatta is firmly focused on UM-Dearborn — looking at how to best support her students now, while also planning for the campus’ future.
Combine that with a quarter century of Dearborn Wolverine experience, and Scarlatta is an obvious choice for campus’ Interim provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs position. Her one-year appointment begins July 1. Susan E. Alcock stepped down from the position of provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs effective June 30.
“I’m happy to announce that Gabriella Scarlatta has agreed to fill this important leadership position for our university,“ UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso said. “Working with undergraduates and taking part in numerous university service activities, Professor Scarlatta's long career at UM-Dearborn has been marked with distinction.”
Scarlatta — who speaks four languages — is known for expanding cultural experiences on campus. Her enthusiasm for teaching is apparent to students in her courses about French literature and culture, the Italian Renaissance, and early women writers. She also helped create a French Study Abroad course where she takes undergraduates on a 500-mile educational excursion through France. “I’ve always wanted my students to experience France. It’s one thing to say that the Gardens of Versailles are a work of art. It’s another thing to walk through them.”
Among faculty and staff, Scarlatta is a trusted leader who looks for collaborative opportunities.
She served as chair of the Department of Language, Culture and Communication and co-chair of the Department of Humanities, has been a member of the College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters’ Executive and Curriculum Committees, worked as a faculty representative on the Lecturers' Employee Organization university bargaining team on multiple occasions, and was active on Faculty Senate. Most recently Scarlatta has also served as associate dean in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. Her U-M accolades include the Women and Gender’s Studies Outstanding Research Award and a Council on Global Engagement honor from UM-Ann Arbor.
In her new provost position, Scarlatta said a priority is the safe return-to-campus transition for the fall. Simultaneously, she will work with the chancellor on next steps for the campus’ strategic plan. Scarlatta has been active in the strategic planning process, previously serving on UM-Dearborn’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group.
When it comes to academic direction, Scarlatta said her goals include encouraging the expansion of practice-based learning opportunities — that’s where students go out into the world and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom — and fostering collaboration across academic units to create new interdisciplinary programs for enhancing skills needed in a 21st century workforce.
“Our faculty is outstanding and some are already doing these things well. But we can do more. We are in the business of graduating students who have the academic foundation to solve the problems the world is facing today. Practice-based learning and an interdisciplinary education are critical for students to gain experience, problem-solving skills and confidence.”
Scarlatta looks forward to the next academic year and said she’s honored to have a role where she can help shape the future of a campus she’s watched grow over the past twenty five years.
“This campus is very special. I’m proud of the diversity we have here, the dedication our students show toward their education, and how our faculty members balance both their research endeavors and genuinely connecting with our students. With the campus’s strategic planning efforts and Chancellor Grasso’s vision, I look forward to what we’re able to accomplish in the next year and into the future."