Eric G. Tenbus will assume his new role as dean of GC’s College of Arts and Sciences effective June 1, 2018.
Tenbus currently serves as professor and chair of the Department of History, Sociology, Anthropology and Cross-Disciplinary Studies at the University of Central Missouri.
A long-time Floridian, Tenbus spent many years of his life passing through the small town of Milledgeville via 441 on road trips. However, it wasn’t until last fall that GC really caught his attention.
Current Dean Ken Procter announced his retirement in spring 2017. Following the announcement, the College of Arts and Sciences formed a search committee composed of its faculty, staff, students and alumni. With the help of search firm Issacson, Miller, the committee assembled a diverse national candidate pool.
Four finalists visited Milledgeville for on-campus interviews in November and December 2017 prior to Tenbus’s selection. Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kelli Brown said she is confident in his ability to build upon the strong foundation of GC’s largest college.
“Dr. Tenbus is an accomplished scholar, educator and administrator and has the necessary experience, temperament and sense of humor to successfully lead the college,” Brown said.
GC outlined its goals for the coming years in its 2016-2021 strategic plan, entitled “Our Path to Preeminence.” Tenbus said he feels prepared to guide the College of Arts & Sciences toward achieving this ideal.
“What I’m most looking forward to is the challenge and the opportunity to join an organization that is doing something very well and help the institution continue along that path,” Tenbus said.
One of GC’s defining features is its designation as Georgia’s public liberal arts institution. Tenbus describes himself as a firm believer in the liberal arts as the foundation for all higher education.
A historian by trade, he points out that some of the oldest, most prestigious institutions in the U.S. today were founded with the liberal arts at their core.
“The liberal arts are essential to the proper working of our democracy,” Tenbus said.
Tenbus also said he is passionate about interdisciplinary interactions. He is energized by the idea of creating new opportunities for engagement across the 13 departments in the College of Arts & Sciences.
This passion for interdisciplinary work is woven throughout his own background and unique path to academia. As an undergraduate student in professional writing at Carnegie Mellon University, Tenbus’s dream was to write for Rolling Stone.
“Music was my first passion,” Tenbus said. “I never thought I’d be a teacher.”
Following his college graduation, he worked for a marketing firm in his hometown of Vero Beach, Florida. When the opportunity presented itself to work for his favorite baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, he jumped at the chance.
Following his work with the Dodgers, Tenbus earned a master’s degree in mass communication from Florida State University. Several years in the corporate marketing world followed.
His next and most pivotal career change can actually be attributed to an Irish pub.
This Irish pub in particular had been open since the 14th century. Celebrating a late honeymoon with his wife, Tenbus was struck by the sheer history surrounding them as they enjoyed their pints.
History wasn’t Tenbus’s major or his minor; however, it was something he always liked.
Tenbus tossed around the idea of going back to school again, only this time to get a master’s in history. But his wife, Kristy Tenbus, encouraged him to take it a step further.
“I remember thinking that he’d make a great teacher, but I told him he couldn’t stop with the master’s,” she said. “He better finish it and get the Ph.D.”
Following the defense of his Ph.D. dissertation in 2001, Tenbus joined the faculty of the University of Central Missouri as an assistant professor. This year marks his seventh year as department chair.
Now 17 years into his third career, Tenbus often reassures students anxious about future careers.
“I’m a perfect example of not having to know when you’re 18 years old,” he said.
Today, Tenbus is a dynamic teacher and scholar. Known to show Monty Python when teaching about medieval Britain, his sense of humor and personal touch are always present in the classroom.
“If you love your subject, if you’re passionate about your subject, you’ll make it come naturally for your students,” Tenbus said. “If I’m having fun, hopefully my students are having fun.”
Tenbus will arrive in June 2018 to share his passion with GC.