Professor Spotlight: Sheila Ager

The New Dean of Arts

Who is Sheila Ager? 

Sheila AgerSheila Ager is a faculty member at Waterloo since 1987. She is a full professor in the Department of Classical Studies. She completed her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at Queen’s University. She then went to the University of British Columbia to complete her doctorate. She was initially interested in pursuing a career in science. However, she was intrigued by the stories, history, and myths from the ancient world portrayed in movies and books. Thus, she focused her interest in classical studies in pursuit of understanding the ways of the ancient world and exploring how ancient cultures resonate with different cultures around the world.  

She teaches the following subjects: 

  • Greek History  

  • Hellenistic Monarchies   

  • Women in the Ancient World  

  • Greek Epigraphy  

From her interest in interstate relations in the Hellenistic age (the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE and the suicide of Cleopatra in 30 BCE), she has authored and edited numerous books and articles centering on this period. For example, she wrote her 1996 monograph, Interstate Arbitrations in the Greek World, 337-90 BC, centering on the issue of peaceful dispute resolution [1]. 

During her employment at the University of Waterloo, Sheila has served number of roles. These include being the chair of the Department of Classical Studies (2009-2017), Associate Dean of Arts (2001-2007), Undergraduate Associate Chair for Classical Studies, two terms as a member of Senate, one term as a member of the Board of Governors, and interim chair for the Department of Fine Arts [2]. From 2016 to 2019 she served as the Director of the University’s Academic Leadership Program. 

Sheila was appointed as the next dean of the Faculty of Arts by the University of Waterloo, starting July 1, 2019.  

Ongoing Projects

Sheila is currently working on a variety of research projects including marital patterns among the Hellenistic monarchies and relationships between royal mothers and daughters. She is co-editing a collection of papers from the conference Localism in the Hellenistic World that she organized at UW in 2018. As well, she is one of the chief editors of the recently launched Oxford History of the Hellenistic World.  

Advice for Arts Students

Do not try to bear everything alone. Reach out to someone, always.

Sheila believes that asking for help is important and problems do not define a student. It will save the student a lot of time and trouble if they were to get help instead of trying to find the solution independently. To be able to ask for help is a strength, not a weakness. There are many obstacles and hinderances in life, many requiring assistance from others to overcome them. There is no such thing as a self-made person and life is not meant to be a one-person show.  

If the student needs support in any form, the University of Waterloo has a variety of resources for students, staff, and faculty members. Problems cannot be seen or understood until they are verbally communicated.  

In addition, staying in touch with people can greatly help with their academic journey and even through the rest of their lives.  

The last piece of advice Sheila has to offer is: 

Get help sooner rather than later.


There are many goals that Sheila hopes to achieve as the Dean of Arts.

From a faculty perspective, she hopes to have the Arts Faculty and its members integrated into the University of Waterloo institution as a whole. The Faculty of Arts is often viewed as being less integrated into the University of Waterloo when compared to other faculties. She hopes to change this mindset and encourage the Faculty of Arts to collaborate and be more involved with the University of Waterloo.

The University of Waterloo is well known as an institution that prepares its students for the workforce. Sheila wants Arts programs to become more integrated and holistic in which a student is free to study whatever they desire while gaining the professional edge they need in a workplace.

Sheila cares equally for all members of the Faculty: staff, faculty members, and students. She would like to learn about all parties’ concerns and what they expect from the Dean of Arts.


[1] ‘Sheila Ager’ University of Waterloo, 

[2]’Sheila Ager named Dean of Arts’ University of Waterloo,