The new Frances B. McAllister Endowed Chair in Community, Culture and Environment is excited to build community programs that encourage engaged learning.

“This is an extremely exciting time at NAU as it embarks upon innovative ventures related to sustainability and political engagement,” Romand Coles said. “The McAllister chair provides a crucial and rather rare position from which to cultivate more hopeful directions for universities and communities as we face tremendous political and ecological challenges.”

The McAllister chair oversees NAU’s Program in Community, Culture and Environment, whose mission is to engage the university and community in a dialogue about the past, present and future of the Colorado Plateau.

Since 1996, Coles has been an associate professor in political science at Duke University, where he also led the department’s graduate program from 2000 to 2002.

He was attracted to his new position, which he begins on July 1, by its interdisciplinary nature.

“I can’t think of another university that has such a concentration of people doing such interesting, engaged and interdisciplinary scholarship as NAU,” he said. “I think the most exciting scholarly work being done these days crosses disciplinary boundaries.”

Coles’ plans for the program include getting to know northern Arizona’s diverse community through a series of one-on-one meetings and creating a board of directors for the program.

While at Duke, Coles participated in numerous university administrative committees and led community projects focusing on grassroots politics. He has authored numerous articles and four books.

He received his doctorate degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts, and a master’s degree in political science, and a bachelor’s degree in social impact assessment/ human ecology, from Western Washington University.

According to Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, “Romand’s intensive record of community and scholarly experience, as well as working across many disciplines, are the perfect ingredients for strengthening NAU ties with community partners. He is a natural for NAU given our commitment to sustainability.”