Keough School appoints new assistant dean for academic affairs and associate director of master of global affairs 

Photo, left to right: Iris Ma, assistant dean for academic affairs, and Becca Méndez, associate director of the master of global affairs program

The Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame recently appointed Iris Ma as assistant dean for academic affairs and Becca Méndez as associate director of the master of global affairs program. 

Iris Ma is a literary and cultural historian specializing in late imperial China and the modern Chinese-speaking world. Her research engages with questions related to gender, popular religion, Cross-Strait cultural exchange, and “Chinese-ness.” She also investigates how the past has shaped and continues to influence the contemporary Chinese-speaking world. 

Before coming to Notre Dame, Ma was a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught courses on China. She holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MA from the National University of Singapore.

In her role as assistant dean, Ma works closely with the associate dean for academic affairs on faculty affairs, the master of global affairs program, and the undergraduate program. Ma also holds an appointment as an assistant advising professor and will teach courses on East Asian culture and history, especially China. 

As associate director of the master of global affairs program, Becca Méndez provides leadership for a two-year professional degree program that prepares students from around the world for careers in global affairs. She coordinates program concentrations in peace studies, sustainable development, and global affairs, and manages a team responsible for every aspect of the academic experience of 72 students, including recruitment, admissions, orientation, and commencement. 

Méndez has worked as a research associate for the Peace Accords Matrix Barometer Project, collaborating with Notre Dame faculty, staff, and researchers in Colombia to monitor the implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement. Her research interests, which focus on the intersection of peace and the environment, were inspired and informed by her Peace Corps service in Paraguay as an environmental conservation volunteer and her work in sustainable development with the Colombian nonprofit organization SembrandoPaz. She speaks Spanish and Guaraní, an indigenous language of South America. 

The Keough School of Global Affairs addresses some of the world’s greatest challenges, with particular emphasis on the design and implementation of effective and ethical responses to poverty, war, disease, political oppression, environmental degradation, and other threats to dignity and human flourishing. 

In keeping with Notre Dame’s mission to place scholarship in service to the common good, the Keough School advances integral human development through research, policy and practice; transformative educational programs, and partnerships for global engagement.


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