By John Rogers /// Managing Editor
Months of research and collaboration by the College of Arts and Sciences Dean Search Committee culminated in the appearance of four candidates on campus over the last two weeks. Students were invited to attend a one hour ‘brown bag’ session with each candidate. Although each session was marked by the unique perspectives and biographies of the candidates, they shared one clear trait: student attendance, or lack there of.
These sessions, held separately for students, faculty and staff, were scheduled intermittently over a two week period and varied greatly in structure and style. One candidate dedicated most of the hour to the discussion of professional exploits, while another’s biography was provided in less than a five minutes.
Students who attended made full use of their time with each candidate, posing questions and comments on various topics, including policy, social justice and retention.
Student Body President Lincoln Boyd (’15) felt strongly about his participation. “I attended candidate sessions because I wanted to make sure I leave the school in good hands,” Boyd said. “These sessions give us an opportunity to impart our vision for the future of LC with the next Dean.”
Another attendee, Celestina DiMauro (’15), felt similarly. “I’m lucky to be at an institution that does seek student feedback for decisions like the Dean and it’s therefore my duty to take advantage of those opportunities and be a part of the process hiring an incredibly political component of our college.”
According to Chair of the Biology Department, Dr. Paulette Bierzychudek, the Dean of the College, who is second only to the President, is an integral component of the administration and the institution’s reputation.
“The Dean of the college is a very influential position. They are in charge of leading the college forward. The extent to which the [Dean] can elevate the reputation of the college directly correlates with the value of the degree of the student, so it really does matter,” Dr. Bierzychudek said.
Dr. Bierzychudek, who attended all four of the faculty candidate sessions, reported that attendance was high, estimating that over half of faculty attended the sessions. Interestingly, she was not surprised by the disparity between staff and student attendance.
“I think that the personal link [to the Dean] is less strong,” Dr. Bierzychudek said when looking at the student body’s relationship with the CAS Dean in comparison to the faculty’s working relationship. “Students probably don’t think that the choice will affect them that much, because they have much more day-to-day contact with other administrators, like the Dean of Students, than they do with the Dean of the College.”
Low attendance may also have been a result of the inconvenient timing and duration of the sessions. Lydia Bleifuss (‘16) did not attend the sessions but was interested in learning more about the candidates.
“There were too many emails,” Bleifuss said. “The whole deal would have been more effective if each candidate had a succinct bio which let us know what they were about and why they wanted the LC ‘Crown Jewels.’”
To give feedback, students were asked to attend any combination of the the four 11:45-12:45 pm sessions, and fill out an online or printed feedback form with criticism for the respective candidate, on the day of their visit.
However, it’s not only the lack of attendance that frustrates DiMauro, it’s the ever present student discontent with the LC administration. “I think it’s incredibly hypocritical of students to pick bones with the decisions and appointments of deans if they don’t participate in the opportunities that are open for them,” DiMauro said. “If you’re not engaging with your community, especially the political aspects of your community, then how can you expect any political decisions to fall in your favor?”
Ultimately, the decision to appoint LC’s next Dean of the College will be made by one person – President Barry Glassner.
“The search committee has done a superb job, and I am delighted by the feedback I’ve received from faculty, staff and students from across the College,” said President Glassner on Tues. March 3.
His words reaffirm those of Boyd’s.
“Our comments and feedback hold more weight than you’d think” said Boyd. “Be the change you wish to see by making your voice heard when it matters most.”