The first of the three candidates for dean of the college, Dr. Bonnie Irwin, spoke to a group of about 15 students at an open forum last Thursday, stressing her desire to work at a place like Knox and her commitment to being involved with student research.
Irwin, who has served as dean of the College of Arts & Humanities at Eastern Illinois University since 2010, is one of the final candidates identified as a result of a national search. The new dean will replace Lawrence Breitborde as dean and vice president for academic affairs after he steps down at the end of this year.
“Throughout all of my time at EIU, I have been trying to create opportunities for students that are closer to the kinds of opportunities that you have here,” Irwin said, mentioning study abroad and research grant initiatives she champions in her current position and did so previously as dean of the honors college at EIU.
Irwin, also a professor of English at EIU, shared some anecdotes about helping with student research, even while serving in an administrative capacity.
“I’d like to continue [working on student research] here, because it keeps me grounded,” she said. “I could spend days looking at budgets and contracts and all manner of things, which I handle well but aren’t really exciting.”
Irwin noted that there would be a learning curve coming from a larger public university to a small, residential liberal arts college, but she imagined that her first 100 days at Knox would entail watching and listening to understand its nuances.
Breitborde plans to take one year off after stepping down as dean, and he will later return to teach anthropology.
The second of three candidates for dean of the college, Dr. Laura Behling, spoke to a group of about 20 students at an open forum Tuesday, emphasizing her past experience with faculty development and her desire to return to an institution much like her first: a small, residential liberal arts college.
Behling, the associate provost for faculty affairs at Butler University in Indianapolis, is one of the final candidates identified as a result of a national search. The new dean will replace Lawrence Breitborde as dean and vice president for academic affairs after he steps down at the end of this year.
When she served in administrative positions at Gustavus Adolphus College, Behling said, much of her work was geared toward faculty development.
“Even though they have been in school forever, faculty still need training and new ideas, so that’s what I would really work to do (at Knox),” Behling said.
In addition to her Ph.D. in literature, Behling holds a degree from the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Especially with regard to new technology being used in education, Behling stressed that new “pedagogies” need to be developed to make use of that technology in classrooms, even college classrooms. But she did acknowledge that technology has limitations and cannot always emulate a face-to-face classroom discussion.
Behling also discussed a program much like the new Horizons showcase of student work at Knox, which she helped to start at Gustavus Adolphus.
Moreover, Behling praised the liberal arts environment at Knox, the educational style which she experienced at Kalamazoo and Gustavus Adolphus and to which she would like to return.
Irwin and Behling are the first of three candidates to visit campus. The third, Ohio Wesleyan University’s Interim Provost Charles Stinemetz, will have a similar student forum Thursday, Jan. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in Ferris Lounge. One of the three will be chosen to replace current Dean Lawrence Breitborde when he steps down after spring term. The national search was conducted by the Washington D.C. firm Isaacson, Miller.