Highlights from BYU Colleges: School of Family Life appoints new director, guest speaker discusses race in dance


College of Family, Home and Social Sciences

Erin Holmes is the new director of the School of Family Life. (Aislynn Edwards/BYU Photo)

Erin Holmes is the new director of the School of Family Life. She along with four other new department chairs will hold the position for a three-year term and begin on July 1. The dean of the school, Ben Ogles, believes this new administration will help the college pursue its goal to be more diverse and inclusive. 

Holmes helped create the school’s diversity and inclusion statement. She previously worked as an associate professor and will begin her tenure as a professor on July 1. The four other new department chairs include associate professor of sociology Curtis Child, geology professor Daniel Olsen, economics professor Lars Lefgren and political science professor Jay Goodliffe. They will become the department chairs of sociology, geology, economics and political science.

College of Life Sciences

Emilee Severe conducts her field research. (College of Life Sciences)

Being from Idaho, Emilee Severe was already accustomed to the ideas of science, sustainability and irrigation in an agrarian community. So when she came to BYU, she was prepared to study aquatic ecosystems. Severe has been working with Dr. Ben Abbott in the U.S. and in Europe studying water systems. Her research has led her to study agricultural water in France and the affects of wildfires on irrigation systems. This summer she will be headed to England to study microplastics in the water.

“My project is specifically looking at the factors that influence both male and female students in participating in their classes,” Severe said. “Ultimately, the research is to help increase women’s feeling of belonging within science majors.”

College of Fine Arts and Communications

Nyama McCarthy-Brown was the last speaker in the Listen Up! series. (The Ohio State University)

Professor Nyama McCarthy-Brown spoke virtually from The Ohio State University to BYU dance students and faculty to discuss the issues of race and diversity in dance. Her speech was the last in the Listen Up! series which featured professors and educators discussing diversity and inclusion in the world of arts. The series was conducted over the Winter 2021 semester.

McCarthy-Brown talked to faculty and students about the whiteness of dance and how the stereotype can be dismantled. She also posed the question for those outside of dance. “If you’re not a dance person, then I challenge you to ask that question in terms of your own discipline or area of expertise and study. What ways are structures of whiteness being upheld in your area? And in what ways are the structures being dismantled?”

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