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Nancy Dayton

Dean of Arts & Humanities

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african american literature american literature contemporary literature literary theory native american literature world literature


  • PhD, American Literature, Miami University
  • MA, English Literature, Indiana University
  • BA, English, Writing, Indiana Wesleyan University

Career Highlights

  • My professional career at Taylor has been spent working to develop the curriculum, programs, and faculty of the English department. I was hired in 1988 to teach Composition to the large incoming class and I became Chair of the department in 2000. Under my leadership the department developed the Making Literature conference, hosting undergraduate Literature and Creative Writing students from CCCU schools in  Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and as far away as Texas to present their work and hear keynote speakers such as Gregory Wolfe, Valerie Sayers, and Scott Russell Sanders. During my time as Chair, our department developed a sequence of Literary Editing and Publishing course ENG 300 and ENG 470.  The first in the sequence allows students to receive credit working as staff on the undergraduate journal Parnassus, and the second allows them to participate in the production of  the nationally recognized journal Relief:  A Journal of Faith and Art. 
  • During my time as a faculty member I served on a number of key task forces and committees: Two General Education Revision task forces, the Honors Advisory Council, the Provost’s Academic Council, the University Planning Council, and the inaugural Foundational Core Committee.
  • I have been privileged to serve not only as Chair of the English department, but as Associate Dean for the Division of Letters (2004-2007) supervising faculty and faculty chairs in that role.
  • Because of my leadership roles, I was privileged to attend the CCCU’s Women’s Leadership Development Institute in 2008 and again in 2009.
  • I was selected by the faculty to serve on the Faculty Leadership cohort, serving as Vice-Moderator of the faculty, then Faculty Moderator, then Past-Moderator during President Lowell Haines’ term. In these roles, I chaired the faculty meetings, chaired the Faculty Council, and regularly advised both the Provost and the President.
  • In the summer of 2021, I was asked to serve as Interim Dean of Arts, Humanities, Business, and Higher Education and I was later asked to continue in this role by the Provost Dr. Jewerl Maxwell.
  • My literary expertise focuses upon American Literature, particularly African American and Native American Literatures, but I have taught the majority of courses in the English department. I have presented at national conferences on subjects related to World Literature, specific periods in American Literature, Contemporary Literature, and approaches to Literatures of Diverse Cultures.


I am a Hoosier, born in Marion, Indiana, but I grew up between Ohio and Indiana. I am an only child who was raised in an academic family; my father was a mathematician whose degree came from The Ohio State and who later served as the Dean of the Division of Sciences at Taylor and my mother was a secondary Art teacher at Oak Hill School Corporation in Grant County. My theological background is Wesleyan, spanning several generations, and I graduated from Marion College (IWU) with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. I then went on to receive my MA from Indiana University, Bloomington and began teaching full-time at Ball State University. Upon receiving a call to interview at Taylor, I was offered a one-year contract that later shifted into a tenure-track position. During my initial years as a faculty member, I completed my PhD from Miami University. My dissertation topic was: Revis(ion)ing and Re-Membering: Four American Women Novelists and the Imaginative Search for American Identity.

While serving as Dean of Arts & Humanities,  I work to support faculty, helping them grow as professionals and supporting their individual and departmental goals. Additionally, I am responsible for supporting the Foundational Core across the university. I continue to teach for the English department, courses such as ENG 212 Critical Approaches to Literature and ENG 444 Contemporary Literature, and I serve as the co-director of IAS 496 Senior Seminar IAS 495 with my colleague in Psychology, Dr. Vance Maloney.

My husband and I have three grown children, one who is a talent recruiter for the technology industry at Robert Half in Indianapolis, one who serves as the videographer for the Admissions and Marketing department at Taylor, and one who lives in Muncie and works in graphic design for local marketing agencies. My husband and I worship at Northview Church in Fishers, Indiana. He retired from Institutional Research at Taylor in May of 2022 and he is presently following his interest in genealogy research, since he has 12 ancestors who were Mayflower passengers and he is a member of the Indiana Society of Mayflower Descendants. He and his brother wrote a family historical genealogy, which I edited, chronicling additional branches of their family: The First Six Generations of Daytons in America: 1639-1807.