David M. Timmerman, professor of rhetoric and chair of the division of humanities and fine arts at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., has been appointed Dean of the Faculty at Monmouth College. He will assume his duties on July 15.
“Striving to become a model of America’s premier educational experience demands an engaged form of leadership,” said Monmouth president Mauri Ditzler, who was dean of Wabash at the time Timmerman was granted tenure there. “As I reflect on my colleagues of the last three decades, I can think of no one better suited to be our chief academic officer than David Timmerman.”
A scholar of the history of classical rhetoric, Timmerman has devoted much of his career to studying and promoting civil discourse as a key component of the liberal arts experience. He is the co-author (with Ed Schiappa) of “Classical Greek Rhetorical Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse” (Cambridge University Press, 2010), the co-editor (with Todd McDorman) of “Rhetoric and Democracy: Pedagogical and Political Practices” (Michigan State University Press, 2008) and is currently working with colleagues on a project that focuses on reshaping Wabash’s basic public speaking course toward democratic participation and civic engagement.
MC physics professor Chris Fasano, who chaired the search committee, was enthusiastic about the appointment. “We had three really strong finalists,” he said. “It was an incredibly difficult choice, but one the entire committee is pleased about. He will be a great asset for moving Monmouth College along the upward trajectory it is following.”
Raised in the Los Angeles area, Timmerman earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA in 1983. It was there that he met his wife, Polly, who is today a nurse. Timmerman’s membership in a very active church during his college years resulted in his spending a summer as a missionary in Mexico. That led him to pursue a career in the ministry, which he did for seven years in Littleton, Colo., having earned a master of divinity degree from Denver Seminary.
Timmerman’s career transition from the big city to rural Indiana came about as the result of meeting a scholar from Purdue who was studying rhetoric in the Classical period. “He needed someone who knew Greek to work with him,” Timmerman explained. “So that training from seminary in translating Greek ended up pushing my scholarship down the path of ancient rhetoric, and that’s what led to the job at Wabash.”
In 1994—the same year he earned his Ph.D. in communication from Purdue—Timmerman began a 16-year stint on the Wabash faculty, serving as chair of the department of rhetoric for nine of those years.
In accepting the Monmouth appointment, Timmerman said he particularly looks forward to the prospect of helping to strengthen and solidify MC’s academic reputation. “I am convinced from my interactions with faculty and President Ditzler that this is an exceptional moment of opportunity for the college in terms of the academic program,” he noted. “The combination of faculty desire, intention, and the opportunity to focus on the academic core of the institution—matched with the strength of the faculty that I observed—makes the dean’s position very desirable. The Monmouth faculty is clearly a strong one: skilled, engaged, and deeply committed.”
The 2005 recipient of Wabash’s outstanding teaching award, Timmerman said he hopes to be able to keep one foot in the classroom at Monmouth. “The task of educating young men and women in a holistic manner is one that all members of the campus community can and should take pride in,” he said. “I love teaching and I would hope and plan to continue teaching, perhaps most naturally in the Integrated Studies program…I do not think it good when an administrator becomes too far removed from this central element.”
Timmerman is also a prolific writer. He has written numerous articles for scholarly journals such as Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Philosophy and Rhetoric, and the Journal of Communication and Religion, and has contributed chapters to several books. He is currently authoring a rhetoric textbook with his department colleagues.
Professionally, he is a member of the college’s academic affairs committee, honorary degrees committee, academic policy committee and faculty development committee, among others.
Timmerman and his wife are the parents of two grown sons. An avid baseball fan, he coached both sons in Little League, and youth baseball for 13 consecutive years.