Jane Kelleher Fernandes joined UNC Asheville as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in July 2008. As an academic leader and educator of national prominence, her life's work—creating inclusive academic excellence in education at all levels—has taken her from Hawaii to the Atlantic seaboard. She earned a Master's degree and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa. Her undergraduate degree is in French and Comparative Literature from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Dr. Fernandes, who is deaf, was raised in the oral tradition to speak English and attended public schools in Worcester, Mass., long before the passage of state and federal laws requiring accommodations to be made for equal access. While a graduate student at the University of Iowa, she began learning American Sign Language. After immersing herself in signing and Deaf culture, she is today a balanced bilingual able to speak the languages of both Deaf and hearing people.
Dr. Fernandes brings with her a wealth of educational experience. Following eight years as an academic leader in both pre-college and higher education settings, she became vice president and then the provost at Gallaudet University, an institution for deaf students, in Washington, D.C. While there, she led academic strategic planning to raise enrollment, retention and graduation rates, to strengthen academic standards, and to achieve equitable outcomes for students across race and among the many ways there are to be deaf.
Her scholarship and service have been dedicated to fostering bilingual American Sign Language-English literacy in all deaf students, promoting interdisciplinary teaching and learning practices, and advocating for racial justice. She fosters the development of inclusive schools of racial justice where every student, regardless of circumstances, is welcome and educated respectfully to the maximum positive outcome.
In addition to her position as Provost, Dr. Fernandes is a tenured professor of education at UNC Asheville and serves as a Senior Fellow with the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute, founded at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.