Quinn Has Settled Into Dean’s Chair

Quinn Has Settled in Dean's Chair

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

After a quarter-century as a teacher, last year Joseph F. Quinn found himself both a top administrator and a student when he became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

For Quinn, the 1999-2000 academic year was an intensive learning period, even as he presided over BC's largest undergraduate school. Now, Quinn looks to apply his education toward developing and implementing a vision for the college.

A&S Dean Joseph Quinn

"I've very much enjoyed it so far," said Quinn in a recent interview. "If there was one thing I found surprising, it was the scope of the dean's job. The college is huge, accounting for about 60 percent of BC in terms of faculty and students.

"But I received a lot of support and advice from friends and colleagues," he continued, singling out Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John Neuhauser, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smyer, and Associate Academic Vice President Patricia DeLeeuw, "and especially the A&S associate deans and staff.

"Going into this year I feel I have a better idea of what to expect, and how to deal with some of the challenges ahead."

Those colleagues, meanwhile, point out that Quinn has hardly been inactive thus far during his administration, and laud the attentiveness and responsiveness they say he has exhibited.

"I regard Joe's first year as having been an upbeat one, a time of great enthusiasm," said Neuhauser, who notes the "solid foundation" laid by Quinn's predecessor, J. Robert Barth, SJ. "Joe saw his appointment as a world of opportunities, not problems, and he was more than willing to look and listen so he could grasp the essentials of being a dean."

"Joe was accessible, and made a real effort to get out and visit different departments and programs," said Psychology Department Chairwoman Assoc. Prof. Jeanne Sholl. "As familiar as he is with A&S, he showed that he wanted to build on what he knew."

As an example of Quinn's achievements, Neuhauser points to the innovative joint appointment of husband-and-wife scholars Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair this past summer to the Norma Jean Calderwood University Professorship in Islamic and Asian Art.

"Joe was instrumental in creatively fashioning the appointment," Neuhauser said, "and the result is positive in so many ways for the University: It brings a talented couple to the faculty in a unique job-sharing arrangement, and strengthens Boston College in the arts and cultural diversity."

Quinn also has drawn praise from colleagues for his work in the less dramatic, but no less significant areas of administration such as the promotion and annual merit increment processes. Attention to the fine details, as Sholl explains, helps to provide assurance that "the dean's office is functioning very well."

Another successful initiative was Quinn's earmarking of funds to reimburse faculty who invite students home for dinner or similar informal gatherings. Through this program, which Quinn said helps build rapport between teacher and student, 47 faculty entertained a total of 709 students during the past academic year.

It is not, Quinn says, as if he had been preparing his whole life to be A&S dean. But the experience he accumulated by serving on the A&S Board of Chairs, as well as in a broader, University-wide capacity - chairing the BC Athletics Advisory Board, for example, or sitting on the Core Curriculum Task Force - helped him appreciate the workings of a major undergraduate school.

Along with Blair and Bloom, Quinn said he is excited about the arrival of 17 other new faculty members to A&S this academic year. Ten of the newcomers will be senior faculty, and nine of the 17 are women.

"These senior faculty members bring a lot with them, in terms of experience, reputation and perspective," he said. "The fact they are attracted to BC shows the high regard in which this university is held."

As he contemplates the areas of focus this coming year, notably advising and the college's administrative structure, Quinn says he feels gratified by the support of the faculty.

"It's been a remarkably comfortable transition," he said. "I always felt they were my colleagues, and I still do. In fact, I still consider myself a faculty member.

"On my best days, I feel like a facilitator of good ideas and good appointments, and that is what I hope one of my roles continues to be."


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