Two of the four candidates for the new dean of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences held 45-minute open forums in Harland Cinema Friday and Monday to discuss their relevant experience and address student concerns. Only one student unaffiliated with the Wheel attended each of the two forums that occurred by press time.
The College dean search was launched following the August 2016 announcement that former College Dean Robin Forman was leaving Emory to become senior vice president and provost of Tulane University (La.). Forman served as College dean from 2010 to 2016.
According to College Council (CC) President Molly Zhu (17C), the search committee has recommended four candidates. Zhu is the only student member of the search committee.
Finalists Gene Jarrett, associate dean of the humanities at Boston University, and Jeff Legro, vice provost for global affairs at the University of Virginia, spoke Friday and Monday mornings, respectively, about their past college administration experience and their goals for the University should they obtain the position.
Interim College Dean Michael A. Elliott, the third candidate, will hold an open forum Thursday, according to Zhu. The final candidate will speak Friday, April 21. Zhu said Monday afternoon that she did not yet know who the fourth candidate is.
The College dean’s duties include overseeing the College’s more than 45 departments and programs, and a budget of approximately $300 million and $25 million in grants. The University hopes to name a new dean by summer break, according to a Nov. 15, 2016 press release.
Holding a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University (N.J.) and English Master’s and doctorate degrees from Brown University (R.I.), Jarrett stressed the need to improve communication within the Emory community and externally with the surrounding areas.
“[Emory] can provide cultural and intellectual resources for both the campus community and for the surrounding area,” Jarrett said. “It’s important to look inward, but we can also expand outward. I think that something this past election cycle showed is that there is a huge disconnect in this country based on education and I think we should work to improve that.”
Some of Jarrett’s other goals include increasing and supporting diversity of faculty members, improving the international student experience and evaluating the effectiveness of the student advising program.
Jason Friedman (17C), the sole student in attendance for Jarrett’s forum, was most concerned about the allocation of the College budget.
“We’ve seen these cuts to important programs over the last few years,” Friedman said, citing the journalism and visual arts programs cuts. “I’d like to see the budget lean more on the endowment to support those kinds of programs.”
Monday morning, Legro acknowledged Emory’s commitment to diversity, great research and teaching, adding that he would conduct audits and surveys to address potential shortfalls in course offerings and other areas.
“Most people think administration and they equate it with bureaucracy and paperwork, but the essence of administration is really creativity and discovery,” Legro said. “It’s helping your colleagues become even better and [providing them with] more influence than they’ve had in the past. I … like being a bridge builder — I see places where the bridge can be built to enhance the strength of research, the strength of teaching, the whole student experience.”
Hugh McGlade (17C), who attended Legro’s forum, asked the candidate about increasing class sizes, professor tenure-tracks and why he was interested in administration.
CC invited students to attend the 45-minute session Friday with Jarrett via OrgSync last Tuesday. CC sent out another email Sunday evening detailing the time of the sessions for the other candidates. Although the second email misdated April 13 as Tuesday, Zhu later clarified in an email to the Wheel that the third open forum, featuring Elliott, is Thursday, April 13.
The dean candidates also held separate forums for Emory faculty members.
Elliott has served as the interim dean for the College since Forman accepted a position at Tulane University this past fall.
The Emory College Dean Search Advisory Committee makes a recommendation to University President Claire E. Sterk, who names the next College dean. Made up of Emory faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and one student, Zhu, the committee worked with consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles to identify the slate of candidates.