The College of Humanities is searching for a new dean, and they’re asking students to be involved in the process.
The three finalists for the position are Leroy Dorsey, Dianne Harris and Dan O’Hair. Heidi Camp, the assistant dean for advancement at the College of Humanities, said each candidate will go through a similar introductory process, including a campus tour, meetings with department directors, an information session with current students and then a presentation open to the public.
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Each contender will have their own individual sessions for students and the community on different days throughout the month of February. Students will have the opportunity to ask the candidates questions and give feedback for each presenter.
“If you’re bringing in a new dean, you want to see how they interact with students,” Camp said. “We want to see how they respond to student inquiry and how the students respond to the dean candidates.”
She said students are an important part of the selection process.
“Students see the administration of the college from a whole different perspective than a faculty member would,” Camp said.
A search committee will meet after the initial process to review feedback from the different groups. They’ll make a recommendation to the College of Humanities senior vice president, who will then determine which candidate to hire. Camp said they hope to announce the final decision in March.
Zoelle Cooksey, a senior in communication, said she appreciates that students get a voice in the process, even if it’s not heavily weighted.
“It’s better than selecting without any student input,” Cooksey said.
Cory Yates, a senior in communication, said student involvement is great for candidates to gain popularity and become familiar with the community, but is skeptical if students will actually have an impact on the decision.
“I’m not sure how much consideration the powers that be will take from the students’ point of view because we’re only here for so long,” Yates said. “They’ll probably go with someone they prefer for the long term, rather than what this selection of students want.”
Camp said student participation is important but is just a small part of the overall process.
“The student insight will carry weight, but just as the students provide a unique perspective on the role of the dean, the dean is an administrative position and the skillset that qualifies someone to be a dean is often not visible to students,” Camp said.
She said even though each part of the process is integral, there are several factors that contribute to making a decision.
“Everyone included in the schedule is a stakeholder for the new dean to some extent,” Camp said. “They all carry weight but I’m not sure they’re all weighted equally.”
Dan O’Hair presented last Wednesday. The final two candidates will have their public sessions later this month. Both sessions will be held in Room 1110 of the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building.
Disclosure: Cynthia Luu is a student in the U’s College of Humanities.
Dean Public Sessions:
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dan O’Hair, Dean of the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky
Wednesday Feb. 18, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Leroy Dorsey, chair of University of Memphis’s Department of Communication
Thursday, Feb. 26, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dianne Harris, director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign