Pitzer College recently established a search committee to find a replacement Dean of Faculty for next fall, following the school’s announcement that current Dean of Faculty Alan Jones will be retiring after ten years in the position. While the committee still plans to have a replacement selected by the spring semester, some members of the committee have expressed concern about lack of student interest in the matter.
To replace Jones, the Faculty Executive Committee created a committee responsible for finding the new dean composed of three senior members of the faculty, two junior faculty members, one staff, and one student.
Pitzer’s faculty nominated members for the committee that they felt would best represent their interests in the search. According to Professor of Mathematics Jim Hoste, a senior faculty member and chair of the search committee, the search for the new dean is something that many members of the faculty are highly invested in because whoever is chosen will become their greatest advocate in school and trustee affairs.
“We’re looking for somebody who is an accomplished teacher and scholar, someone who loves the liberal arts, understands what liberal arts education is, [and] is interested in the goals and mission of our college,” Hoste said.
Jones, the outgoing dean, expressed confidence that the committee will choose an apt replacement.
“I am confident that the new dean will fully appreciate the rich array of organizational resources that they have at their disposal as well as the amazing students, faculty colleagues, staff and administrators with whom they will share the task of building the college’s future both in Claremont and at our sites around the world,” Jones said.
Hoste said that the committee also wants to ensure that the new Dean of Faculty will accurately represent Pitzer’s commitments to interdisciplinary studies and cultural diversity, as they are integral components of the educational philosophy of the Pitzer College community.
While members of the committee expressed excitement for the candidates, both Hoste and student representative Anna O’Kain PZ ’12 voiced concern about what they perceived as a lack of interest among students in the selection process for the new dean. They pointed to a lunch the committee held to discuss the search process, where only two students showed up.
“It’s kind of sad to me that more people aren’t interested,” O’Kain said.
According to Jones, the Dean of Faculty at Pitzer has a wide range of responsibilities in overseeing the college’s academic programs, including managing new academic programs and study abroad programs, while also serving as one of the most important advocates for the faculty.
“At Pitzer, since we have no departments and hence no department chairs, the dean serves as the undiluted administrative support for individual faculty members in a fashion that is quite unusual in higher education,” Jones said.
Currently in his 11th year at Pitzer, Jones has participated in the creation of many new programs, including the Intercollegiate Neuroscience Program and the Pitzer/Botswana Vaccine Institute. As an advocate for the faculty, Jones was also involved in the creation of an administrative framework that allowed intercollegiate ethnic studies departments to request full-time faculty appointments.
But after what he called an “unusually long tenure for a dean,” Jones said he will retire after the spring semester and resume teaching full-time in the area of Developmental Neuroscience.
“Although I’ve greatly enjoyed the work, it is time for new energy and new leadership in the position,” he said.
The search committee will interview semi-finalists for the position on Dec. 1 and 2 through “airport interviews;” that is, where each candidate will be flown in for an interview, during which the committee will assess his or her viability for the job.
“We’re having trouble narrowing it down, which is good,” O’Kain said of the search process.
The finalists will come to campus for two days during the first two weeks of the spring semester so that the different constituencies on campus can interview the candidates themselves.
“They’ll meet with all the different constituencies on campus and give at least one talk,” Hoste said.
After those two weeks, the committee will submit its nomination to the Faculty Executive Committee for approval. The committee hopes to make an offer in early February and have the new Dean of Faculty assume his or her position on July 1.