Four possible candidates for role in arts and sciences
THE SANTA CLARA
February 12, 2014
After 10 years of leadership from W. Atom Yee, Santa Clara has narrowed down four potential candidates as his replacement as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Yee stepped down last year due to a battle with throat cancer, and political science Professor Terri Peretti has served as interim dean of Arts and Sciences since Sept. 1.
One of the most pressing challenges for the new dean will be balancing the needs of the “hard sciences” with the needs of the arts and humanities. The growing nationwide emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math and plans to construct a new STEM building at Santa Clara makes this balancing act all the more difficult.
John Hawley, a professor in the English Department, acknowledged that the new dean will be tasked with fundraising for the new STEM developments, but hopes the humanities will still be a major focus.
“I would want a dean to be an advocate for the humanities in the university,” Hawley said. “If you’re a scientist or a businessman or a lawyer, you should still be interested in the questions that are raised in the humanities.”
The College of Arts and Sciences is by far the largest on campus, comprising approximately 60 percent of undergraduate students.
The dean oversees all operations of the college, including hiring and firing faculty and staff, tenure decisions and classroom and course availability, on top of maintaining external relationships with donors.
The dean also serves as a middleman between faculty and the Provost and President, and must understand the overarching goals of the university. The Santa Clara 2020 Plan, a university-wide initiative to boost Santa Clara’s national prominence and adapt to a growing student body, will be of particular importance in the coming years.
“No one person can do it perfectly,” said Thomas Plante, chair of the search committee. “They not only need to keep the house in order, they need to remodel the house so it’s more modern and is consistent with what the university wants.”
Music department lecturer Scot Hanna-Weir said Santa Clara’s strengths in a vast array of fields present students with an opportunity to receive a “well-balanced and diverse education.”
“My hope is that the new dean both understands the specific challenges facing our STEM colleagues and … believes in the centrality of the arts to living up to our liberal arts vision,” Hanna-Weir said in an email. “I think singing scientists and analytical artists are key to what Santa Clara can be about and hope that the new dean will value and understand this.”
Plante said that the four remaining candidates for the position each bring a unique set of skills, traits and experience to the table.
Three of the four candidates are women, and two of the four are people of color, furthering the university’s commitment to a more diverse faculty.
Contact Collin Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.