The search for the new Dean of the College is almost over as the Search Committee has narrowed down the applicants to four potential candidates.
According to the Vice President of Student Development and Co-Chair of the Search Committee Anne Ehrlich, the college had several applicants she could see working at Knox, which has made the final decision difficult.
“[The candidates] all have really, really different experiences, different personalities and would interact with students and faculty differently. It’s like comparing apples to oranges and I think the question is: who’s the best fit at this moment for Knox College?” Ehrlich explained. “We have a variety of different needs. One need that came up a lot is to move the curriculum revision forward.”
Ehrlich emphasized several areas of the college that are in need of being addressed, including a more diverse faculty and staff as well as providing more diverse mentors and role models for the student body.
For the past two weeks, four candidates for the position have been brought to campus. During this time, the Search Committee held several open forums for students to have the opportunity to meet the candidates, ask questions and voice concerns.
However, low student turnout for open forums with the Dean of the College candidates has led to efforts in improving and encouraging student participation.
Student Senate Diversity Chair junior Samantha Arrez was brought onto the search committee to provide student input during the hiring process. She suspects that the main reason there was low student turnout at the open forums was due to lack of information about what the Dean of College does.
“I think even before I was on this committee, I didn’t know [what the Dean did]. The reason why I know so much is because I was on this committee with faculty and staff who knew,” Arrez said. “How do we [inform the students about the Dean] in an easier way? I probably wouldn’t have gone [to the open forums] if I didn’t know.”
The Dean of the College oversees many aspects of the college, including the hiring process of faculty members, Trio, the Center for Global Studies and the Vovis Center for research. Ehrlich hopes the future Dean of College will be more visible and accessible on campus. She also encourages students to reach out to the Dean as well by attending their office hours, sharing experiences in the classroom and bringing up issues where there needs to be improvement on campus.
“I think [the Dean] is to students a more behind the scenes person and they might not realize what a significant impact this person has from a leadership position in what [students’] academic experience is going to be like,” Ehrlich said. “They’re the primary person that’s guiding the new curriculum, they ultimately get to decide what faculty are hired or not. It’s very important, but it’s not very visible.”
One way the administration can better inform the student body on the importance of the Dean of College and why they should participate in the hiring process, is by opening communication lines between clubs. Arrez suspects that the dissemination of information and increase in interest in the search process could start by getting the presidents of clubs, fraternities and sororities interested.
For now, Arrez wants students to keep the new Dean in mind when dealing with potential issues.
“The beautiful thing about Knox [with its] administrators, staff and the student body is that we’re vocal. Whether it’s something that bothers us or whether it’s something that we want to challenge, we’re vocal,” Arrez said. “We told our candidates that and it’s something they appreciated as well. I think we just need to continue doing the things that we’re doing. Continuing to challenge things that happen on campus, problems that we’re encountering on a daily basis, things that we want to change and using that open door policy to our advantage.”