Committee closes in on new math and science dean candidate

Ethan Metcalf

The College of Science and Mathematics is in the market for a new dean, and two prospective candidates for the job visited campus to meet with faculty and administrators, as well as give a presentation. Provost Betty Stewart said the timeline for the search is based her expectation to complete the process by the end of the fall 2014 semester, allowing the new dean to start in fall 2015.

William Davis, professor and chemistry department chair of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, came to campus Nov. 14 and B. Connie Allen, provost at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, visited Nov. 17, giving a 30-minute presentation in Bolin Hall to science and math faculty.

But before all of that, Stewart said in a September interview that the process starts with gathering input from faculty and producing an advertisement for the position.

“We have a job description for a dean that’s listed in human resources, so we use that as the basis and then ask the constituents in the college, the faculty, ‘Take a look at this job description. Is there anything here that you would like your dean to be able to do that’s not listed here?’ and then we modify the ad based on feedback from the faculty,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t really change much.”

Stewart said while faculty and student input is considered, there is no emphasis on the potential dean to have a degree in a certain area, just that his or her background fits within the college.

“So as long as their degree is in one of those departments,” Stewart said. “All of our deans have faculty rank, so we want them to have a major that will fit into one of our areas.”

Jonathan Price, assistant professor of geosciences and member of the search committee for the new dean, said the committee could also choose to invite a third candidate to campus if the committee was not happy with the first two visitors.

“Ultimately to satisfy the position, we want somebody who can work with all the operating organizations in the college and work well with the upper administration at the same time so we’ll be able to sort of communicate back and forth through that,” Price said.

Price said it will be important for the new dean to manage the recent growth within the college.

“We’re at a particularly good time in the College of Science and Math in terms of growth in the some of the programs and trying to grow throughout, so dealing with the growth pains will be a big issue with the next dean so we want to see how people will handle that,” Price said.

Terry Griffin, assistant professor of computer science and search committee member, said he hopes the new dean will able to bring more funding to the college because additional funds are needed to manage the college’s growth.

“I’d like to see (him or her) with some new approaches to bringing in external funding, helping faculty with research grants, maybe endowments to help with new facilities. We’re really packed in here. There’s not enough lab space, there’s not enough offices,” Griffin said. “In computer science we’ve grown 100-200 percent it seems. We’re hiring a new faculty member for the fall and we don’t even have an office space. Mostly, and sadly, almost everything boils down to money.”