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New colleges of Arts, HSS seek founding deans

February 12th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Tazya Williams and Chris Romriell

LOGAN–USU President Stan Albrecht has formed search committees for founding deans of two new colleges at USU, and the timeframe for them to complete their work is short.

The search committees were appointed this week, and the goal is to name new deans of arts, and of social sciences/humanities, by mid-March

The openings for the two senior academic leaders were created when Utah State decided to split the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS)—by far the university’s largest college—into separate colleges.

Current HASS Dean Yolanda Flores Niemann announced Jan. 19 that she would step down as dean at the end of her contract year, on June 30, in order to make way for new leadership in the creation of the new colleges and to seek new professional opportunities.

Albrecht decided Jan. 28 that both dean searches would be internal to USU, meaning that candidates will be selected from among full professors in the respective colleges. This week, after soliciting nominations, Vice Provost Larry Smith announced the makeup of the two dean search committees.

James MacMahon, dean of the College of Science, will chair the committee for the humanities/social sciences dean, and Carol Strong, dean of the Emma Eccles College of Education and Human Services, will chair the search for the new arts college dean.

Neither of the new colleges has formally been named, and faculty members of the social sciences and humanities departments are considering new “branding” to reflect their disciplines’ roles in the larger university community.

The social science and humanities college will house six departments—English, history, political science, languages, philosophy and speech, sociology, social work and anthropology, journalism and communication—plus the intensive English language institute and the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies.

The new arts college will house the departments of art, music and theatre, and the interior design program, as well as the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art. The landscape architecture and environmental design department, formerly part of the HASS college, is considering moving to another college.

Smith represents the provost’s office and serves as the search manager for both committees. “I do not have a vote nor will I participate in the discussion of applicants,” he said. “I support and serve the committee principally by handling all necessary logistics of the search.”

The process is moving fast. Both search committees already have met and created job descriptions for the new founding deanships, and Albrecht approved the job descriptions Tuesday. Both positions have been posted on the USU Web site, and the search committees are soliciting nominations. Candidates must be full professors.

“Candidates can either be nominated or nominate themselves,” MacMahon said.

Applications are due Feb. 22, after which the committee will meet to evaluate applicants. Interviews of finalists will begin March 3, and the search committees will then submit recommendations to the president. Albrecht hopes to appoint the new deans before Spring Break, which begins March 15.

Philosophy Professor Charlie Huenemann, a member of the HSS dean search committee, said the process of selecting a dean for a new college is both exciting and daunting. “This is a really important decision that is being made,” he said.

Niemann, who was appointed dean of HASS in summer 2008, has presided over the college during difficult times of budget cuts and faculty/staff reductions. HASS department heads released a joint statement Jan. 19 after Niemann announced that she would step down:

“As we enter a period of transition following Dean Niemann’s announced resignation earlier today, the department heads, program directors and faculty of the College are presented with exciting opportunities involving the creation of two new colleges—one comprising the fine arts and the other an entirely new college of social sciences and humanities programs,” the statement said.

“This is a defining moment for the students, staff and faculty of both new units, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to redefine and reinvent how our departments and programs can serve our students and interact with each other in collaborative and innovative ways.”

Caine College of the Arts Dean Search Committee Members
• Carol Strong, committee chair, dean of Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services
• Joyce Albrecht, director of stewardship/fundraiser for the Caine School of the Arts
• Victoria Berry, executive director/chief curator, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art
• Darrin Brooks, assistant professor, Interior Design Program
• Sean Michael, department head, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning
• Adrianne Moore, associate professor, Theatre Arts Department
• John Neely, professor, Art Department
• Nicholas Morrison, associate dean, College of HASS
• Manon Russell, HASS Alumna/Arts Supporter
• Rebecca Turner, student, Music Therapy

Humanities and Social Sciences College Dean Search Committee Members
• James MacMahon, committee chair, dean of the College of Science
• Jeannie Thomas, department head, English
• Charlie Huenemann, professor, Languages, Philosophy and Speech Communication
• Bonnie Glass-Coffin, professor, Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology
• Jeannie Johnson, lecturer, Political Science
• Mary Leavitt, director, HASS Advising Center
• Richard Shipley, Board of Trustees


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