President Teresa Amott sent out an email Tuesday morning welcoming Garikai Campbell as the soon-to-be provost. The search for a replacement started after Laura Behling stepped down as dean of the college at the end of last year to resume teaching in the English department.
In her remarks, Amott said that Campbell was their first choice and that she was excited that the negotiations had ended well. She also explained why the search had gone on so long, including difficulties in contacting off-list references during the December holiday season.
Search Committee member Chair of Anthropology and Sociology Nancy Eberhardt explained more of the committee’s process. They started in the early fall, working with Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates executive search consultants to ask the Knox community what they wanted from the new dean and to develop a description of Knox that potential applicants could then use to make their own decision.
“Searching for a dean isn’t like looking for a faculty member where you can put an ad out in the usual places and have candidates apply individually,” Eberhardt said, explaining the need for a search firm.
Through October and November the committee sorted through applications, both individually and meeting on occasion as a whole.
“We really had a wonderful pool [of candidates]. We were very lucky and I think it speaks well of Knox that we were able to attract so many highly-qualified candidates who wanted to be our dean,” Eberhardt said.
Eberhardt also pointed out that the search goes both ways, with potential deans also having to make sure that Knox fit their needs and wants as well as Knox looking for a dean who would fit its needs and wants.
“I felt inspired by his presentation to us . . .” committee member assistant professor of psychology Andy Hertel said. “It felt to me like he was someone who people could get behind, someone who came across as interested in development of everybody in the institution, from students to faculty to staff. And he had a vision for what an academic life could look like at the institution and spoke to that vision.”
Campbell comes to Knox from Morehouse College, where he is provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. He holds a bachelor’s from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, both in math.
His title at Knox will be provost and dean of the college. According to Eberhardt, the change to the provost title brings Knox more in line with other similar institutions. She worked on the search committee for former dean of the college Lawrence Breitborde and the school had a similar discussion that time.
Eberhardt and Amott also commented on the importance of Campbell’s work in promoting students from groups that are generally underrepresented in STEM.
“I’m looking forward to talking to him about that, to picking his brain and getting his ideas on how do you do that,” Eberhardt said.