Committees search for new deans, fresh ideas

As the spring semester ends, several colleges within SIUC and Library Affairs will continue to conduct candidate searches to fill dean positions.

Of the university’s 11 colleges, three have new permanent deans, one has a new interim dean, who assumes the responsibilities of a permanent dean while a search is being conducted, two are searching for permanent deans and one is currently without an interim dean.

The College of Engineering and the College of Agricultural Sciences have appointed new permanent deans, while the College of Science has named a new interim dean.

The College of Education and Human Services will soon announce the new permanent dean, university spokesman Rod Sievers said in an email.

Next year, the College of Science and the College of Applied Sciences and Arts will conduct searches for permanent deans, Chancellor Rita Cheng said.

Cheng said the process of hiring a new permanent dean has many stages, beginning with paperwork, appointing an interim dean, assembling a search committee, determining finalists from the pool of applicants and finding the right fit for the college and university.

She said the financial impact of hiring a new dean varies, whether from within SIU or an external hire.

Sometimes an internal hire can be less financially taxing on the university, but that is not the basis of the decision, she said.

After the finalist candidates visit the college and interact with faculty and staff within the college, feedback is gathered about their strengths and weaknesses and a candidate is tentatively chosen, Cheng said.

“The idea is if they get to the finalist stage, any one of them could do the job,” Cheng said. “The choice is really about the best fit.”

A benefit of hiring an external candidate is the fresh ideas he or she brings to the university about the success for his or her college, while other times, it is beneficial to hire an internal candidate, Cheng said.

Gary Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, served as associate dean for three and a half years, and as interim dean for one year for the college.

He will be retire June 2012, leaving the college in search of an interim dean.

Kolb said there are many important qualities when considering a new dean.

He said aside from leadership qualities, the ability to communicate and knowledge of the fields within the college, a new dean must be a humanist.

The dean has to care about the people of the college, know how to mentor them and help them succeed, and know how demonstrate that they’re an important part of the university whether they’re faculty, staff, students or community, he said.

Kolb said a new dean will also need to be entrepreneurial, resourceful and optimistic.

When there are plenty of resources and funding, it’s easy to be a good leader, he said, but when resources are tight and everyone must try to do more with less, it gets much more difficult.

“There’s a saying that it’s easy to be a good leader in good times, and this is true,” Kolb said. “Right now, it’s definitely challenging, so the position will need to be filled with someone who is positive and sees this environment as an opportunity and not just a half-empty glass of challenges.”

While the economic times may present challenges for a dean, his or her decisions and leadership will also affect the faculty, staff and students.

Cheng said any new dean will clearly have been selected because of his or her expertise in the field and background and experience as an administrator.

She said students should expect that a new dean will be excited to meet them, bring fresh ideas and thoughts about the direction of the college, engage faculty, staff and students in conversations about the future and be supportive of their program.

“It’s a very exciting time for SIU,” Cheng said. “We’ve got spectacular candidates coming to interview for all of these positions, and it’s going to really strengthen our university to have these positions secured with permanent leadership.”

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About Tiffany Blanchette

Senior at SIUC majoring in photojournalism and zoology. Can be easily reached at or 618-536-3311 ext. 254.

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