Students will have some say in academic dean search

by Carl Benskin

Simpson will soon be getting a new academic dean and students will have a say in who it will be.

“The student leadership should be involved,” said Jim Thorius, vice president for student development. “We might enlist Prexy Club.”

Thorius is a member of the search committee for the new dean, which has narrowed its list to four finalists. These candidates will each be on campus for two days in the next several weeks.

President John Byrd said he’s pleased with the results of the search so far because the college had a total of 74 applicants and the large number of applicants helps ensure that Simpson gets the best person for the position.

Thorius said there would be an open reception where students could meet the potential deans. Both Byrd and Thorius stressed wanting feedback from students about the candidates.

Thorius said as a member of the search committee, he was looking for someone who had a commitment to Simpson’s type of institution, the liberal arts program and the overall learning experience.

He was also looking for someone who would fit in here.

“We’re not in the East or West coast, so we want someone who will be comfortable here,” Thorius said.

Thorius said most of the candidates are from Midwestern locations, but he’s not aware whether any of them have visited Simpson previously.

The search committee was in charge of advertising for the position and selecting the pool of applicants. The four faculty members, three members selected by the president, one administrator and one student worked together to narrow down the list of candidates.

Thorius said some things can be determined about an applicant by his or her resume alone.

“There are things you look for on paper: what is their academic experience and were they a successful teacher?” Thorius said.

In general, the committee was looking for someone who could be involved in Simpson’s broad academic experience. Simpson’s Cornerstone Studies requires students to take classes across different disciplines so the new dean has to be able to work with crossover courses.

Byrd’s goal is to make sure the new Academic Dean will be able to work well with the faculty. He pointed out that the faculty has a lot of control at Simpson and he wants to make sure the finalists will be able to work in that environment.

“They must demonstrate they have accumulated a lot of knowledge about academics at a college of enhanced programs,” Byrd said.

Thorius said he feels this is a good group of finalists and he added that the decision on these four people was almost a unanimous pick by the search committee.

“Agreement was clear,” Thorius said.