Two student forums were held at Pomona College this week to give students an opportunity to ask questions of the final candidates for Dean of the College, a position that was left open earlier this year when former dean and Acting President Cecilia Conrad began her position as Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program.
Tuesday’s forum invited students to converse with candidate Adrian Randolph, who is currently Associate Dean of the Arts and Humanities and Leon E. Williams Professor of Art History at Dartmouth College, and yesterday’s forum featured Janice Hudgings, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Physics at Mount Holyoke College.
“It is a high position. Usually, in other places, people who have this position easily go on to become presidents of other colleges,” said Quinn Lester PO ’13, ASPC Commissioner of Academic Affairs and student representative to the Dean of the College search committee. Lester explained that some of the primary areas under the Dean of the College’s purview include curricular matters, Summer Undergraduate Research Project (SURP) funding and administration, and faculty hiring and promotion.
The forums were arranged and advertised via school-wide e-mails, Chirps! messages, and department chairs and liasons, according to Lester and Trustee Paul Eckstein PO ’62, who chairs the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board and serves on the search committee.
“The Academic Dean Search Committee very much wants to hear how the students view each of the three finalists, which is why we arranged a particular time for students and the candidates to get together,” Eckstein wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “While the final decision rests [with] President Oxtoby, how each of the College’s constituencies perceive the candidates is important information.”
Surveys were sent out to students as a way for them to contribute their opinions after each forum, though less than five students attended each of the first two candidate forums. Lester said that search committees even for top-level positions at the college have rarely garnered more than two to four students at similar forums.
“It’s something we in ASPC deal with all the time,” Lester said. “Trustees come to us all the time saying that we’re not soliciting enough student opinion. And honestly, it is actually hard to figure out how to do that. So it’s not a unique problem to the search process, I would say. It’s hard to figure out how the soliciting will turn into answers.”
The final candidate, whose name will be announced Monday morning, will be available for questions at the final student forum Feb. 19 at 5:15 p.m. in Smith Campus Center (SCC) Room 218.