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Dean's Office Restructure 2020

jennifer malat

Dear CHS faculty and staff,

In September, we were restructuring the associate dean roles in the College. In considering a restructure, I wanted the College to be in the best position to achieve our instructional, research and service mission into the future. I also observed an opportunity to improve the connection between members of the College and the Dean’s Office, which could improve the everyday experience of working in the College.

I am pleased to announce the following appointments:

  • Marcus Messner, Ph.D., Area A Associate Dean (Humanities and Social Sciences)
  • Sally Hunnicutt, Ph.D., Area B Associate Dean (Sciences and Mathematics)
  • Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., Interim Associate Dean for Equity and Community Partnerships
  • Joshua Langberg, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Operations

You can learn more about the new associate deans by reading the news announcement. We are still interviewing candidates for the position of associate dean for undergraduate programs, and I expect to make that announcement in the next few weeks.

Below, you will find information on the new structure, see answers to some questions you may have and submit other comments and/or concerns about the restructure.

I look forward to working with you as we move forward.



I want to improve the connection between members of the College and the Dean’s Office. I also want to put us in the best position to achieve our instructional and research mission, particularly during this challenging time and into the future. The agility we need can be best achieved with a close team that possesses a breadth of skills and experiences.

I convened a short-term Dean’s Advisory Committee to inform the restructure. The Dean’s Advisory Committee included Chris Burdett (Political Science), Alaina Campbell (Advising), Lee Franco (Kinesiology and Health Sciences), Kathy Ingram (Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies), Shiv Khanna (Physics), Greg Patterson (English) and Isabelle Richman (School of World Studies). We had an additional member who stepped aside when she decided that she would pursue one of the associate dean roles.

Together, we reviewed publications that assess models for dean’s offices. Some members of the committee also surveyed chairs, associate chairs, current associate deans and select staff in the Dean’s Office to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement in the current structure. With this information, we had long discussions during Zoom meetings and in shared documents.

The College is very eclectic. We have academic departments in the humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, natural sciences (theoretical and applied), mathematics and statistics. The areas are loosely organized around similar departments; however, this was not the only consideration. We also had to balance the workload of the area associate deans by having roughly even numbers of faculty, staff and students in the areas.

Don’t worry! The associate deans are going to work closely as a team. All of the associate deans will meet regularly to make sure that they all have the information they need and are implementing policies in the same way across departments and schools. If we have an unexpected problem, my job as dean will be to make sure that small differences don’t lead to unequal experiences across the areas.

When I was at the University of Cincinnati, we had only three associate (divisional) deans and that was it. Since I left, they have added another associate dean. I didn’t think that this model would work for us. The Dean’s Advisory Committee and I developed a model that balances a single, direct line from the Dean’s Office to each academic unit and having content specialists among the associate deans. I expect it will lead to responsiveness as well as forward-looking programming.

There were two search committees. One committee recommended a slate for the associate dean for research and operations and the two area associate deans, which made it more likely that we would have a team that represents the College well. The associate dean for undergraduate programs has a separate search committee, because the required expertise and type of candidates is meaningfully different.

The search committee members for the area associate dean positions and the associate dean for research and operations were:

  • Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D. (chair), Professor and Chair, Psychology
  • Christopher Burdett, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Political Science
  • Charlene Crawley, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Chemistry) and Coordinator (Interdisciplinary Science)
  • Catherine Ingrassia, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, English
  • Shiv Khanna, Ph.D., Commonwealth Professor and Chair, Physics
  • Joann Richardson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Health Sciences
  • John Skaritza, Director of Technology and Computer Support, CHS

The search committee members for the associate dean for undergraduate programs position are:

  • Alvin Bryant (co-chair), Assistant Director of Undergraduate Advising, CHS
  • Daphne Rankin (co-chair), Associate Vice President for Summer Studies and Special Programs
  • Jason Arnold, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, CHS, Political Science
  • Sarah Golding, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Research, CHS, Biology
  • Edna Renee Macbeth, Senior Advisor, University Academic Advising, Student Success

All but the associate dean for undergraduate programs were internal searches from the full-time faculty in the College. The associate dean for undergraduate programs is a staff line for which we are conducting a national search.

When I arrived there were five associate deans and one assistant dean. The new team will have five associate deans and no assistant dean. The cost of the new associate dean team will be only slightly higher than the current system. I will use my start-up funds to payout the contracts of current associate deans who do not continue on the new team.

The Dean’s Advisory Committee did not explicitly discuss this. However, we did discuss the importance of providing professional development opportunities for tenure-line, tenured and term faculty. Consequently, I intend to continue to have faculty fellows as part of the Dean’s Office.

The survey of chairs, associate chairs and Dean’s Office staff found that many people believe we need more staff in the College office to facilitate the business of the College. As a result, we’re also considering hiring another person into finance or human resources.

Yes. These positions have been approved for rehire and we are in the process of filling them.