A&S Dean Search Begins In Earnest

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

After meeting with College of Arts and Sciences department chairs and faculty, the committee searching for the next A&S dean is defining the school's future challenges as well as the qualifications the next dean will need to meet them.

The nine-person committee, chaired by Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties David R. Burgess, also has outlined a timetable for completing its task and plans to submit its recommendation to University President William P. Leahy, SJ, in the spring.

Fr. Leahy appointed the committee in September after J. Robert Barth, SJ, announced that he would step down at the end of the 1998-99 year, concluding a decade as A&S dean. After a sabbatical, Fr. Barth will join the English faculty.

"This is a national search seeking the best possible applicants," said Burgess. "The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences holds a key position in the University. That standing, plus the general attractiveness of Boston College, means the job will have a very strong appeal to some outstanding candidates."

Associate Academic Vice President Robert Newton, a committee member, said the University had received approximately a dozen applications as of last week. The committee will review applications starting on Dec. 1, he said, and begin interviewing candidates toward the end of January. Final candidates will be invited to campus in March, Newton continued, adding that members of the University community will have an opportunity to meet them.

Newton added that the University has placed ads in national academic publications and has sent announcements to the 27 other Jesuit colleges and universities, selected doctorate-granting institutions, and all universities in the categories of Research I and II.

"We are seeking names of qualified candidates, both internal and external," he said, "and are making an active effort to bring Jesuits, as well as persons of color, into the applicant pool."

The discussions with department chairs last month, and with A&S faculty this week, have helped the committee establish criteria for the position, members say. They have begun identifying critical issues the head of Boston College's largest undergraduate school likely will confront during the next several years. These include enhancing research quality while improving undergraduate education; faculty recruitment, retention and support; reviewing the school's organizational structure; and playing an active role in developing external funding resources.

To meet these challenges, the committee has identified several qualifications the ideal candidate should possess, such as a commitment to promote the liberal arts tradition; an outstanding academic record as a scholar and teacher; a vision of traditional liberal arts education's role in an increasingly technical and global society; and an understanding of the Catholic, Jesuit university's distinctive mission.

"It's clear there is a strong desire to have someone who will be truly dedicated to sustaining the Boston College liberal arts tradition," said Prof. Rosemary Bodenheimer (English), a committee member. "Yet this person must also be an administrator experienced enough to take on the restructuring and reorganizing needed in A&S."

"The emphasis on development means that some of the dean's previous duties will have to be delegated," added Prof. James Anderson (Economics), another committee member. "There's no question that there will be significant changes in the way A&S is administered. But it's also evident how important it will be to have a dean who's a leader for the liberal arts."

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