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Undergrads identify criteria for next dean of the College

Current dean Katherine Bergeron also advised the search committee on ideal qualities

Undergraduate members of the search committee for a new dean of the College and student group leaders are stressing advising and diversity as key priorities that should drive the search for a permanent successor to Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron, who will step down at the end of the semester.

The 13-person search committee, formed last month, recently held meetings to solicit opinions from administrators, faculty members and student groups in the community-outreach stage of the search process. Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn will serve as interim dean until the University names Bergeron’s permanent successor.

Provost Mark Schlissel P’15, who chairs the committee, said he has emailed faculty members and students asking for nominations, adding that faculty members can nominate themselves or their colleagues. The committee has already received several responses and begun to compile applications, he said.

The committee plans to review applications next month and select six to eight candidates to interview, he said. Three candidates will be presented to President Christina Paxson for a final decision.

Administrators hope the final candidate will be selected by spring and take over the position by next summer, Schlissel said.

The Undergraduate Council of Students held an open application process last month to select three undergraduate representatives — Amelia Armitage ’15, Abishek Kulshreshtha ’15 and Emma Dickson ’16 — for the committee. These undergraduates have acted as liaisons for the student body, said UCS President Todd Harris ’14.5, adding that he is confident that they are working to represent students’ views.

The committee held a focus group at a UCS meeting last week to gather more thoughts from students on qualities undergraduates would like to see in the next dean of the College, Harris said.

Multiple student group leaders told The Herald they believe the next dean of the College should value advising. Kayla Rosen ’14, a member of the Meiklejohn Leadership Committee, said she wants Bergeron’s successor to “reinvigorate” the advising program.

“Advising has made incredible strides in the last six years, but there’s still room to grow,” Rosen said.

Committee members have not yet directly consulted Meiklejohn leaders, she said, but she added that she is confident that Kulshreshtha, who also serves on the Meiklejohn Leadership Committee, is committed to addressing and prioritizing advising.

Kulshreshtha, a physics concentrator, said the next dean of the College should emphasize advising and work to increase diversity among students in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Kulshreshtha said he is also looking for a dean who has innovative ideas, including a willingness to expand programs such as the “flipped classroom” model, in which students watch lectures for homework and do problem sets in class.

Outreach to interest groups on campus “has been really useful in evolving my opinion and giving me new perspectives” on the search process, Dickson said, adding that she does not have exact criteria for the next dean of the College.

The committee does not currently plan to hold a community forum on the search process, having already received “a fair amount of input,” Schlissel said. But he said he would be open to holding such a forum if UCS supported doing so.

“The most important things we hear again and again (are) things like advising, communication, cultural sensitivity” and comfort with “an environment full of social activism,” Schlissel said.

The committee has already met several times to discuss the search process, Schlissel said. Members have finalized the job description detailing the role of and necessary qualifications for the dean of the College, he said. Administrators have advertised the position using several internal and external platforms, as it is open to be filled by faculty members at both Brown and other institutions, Schlissel said.

The committee gathered input over the past few weeks from constituency groups within the Brown community, including administrators, faculty members, staff members and students.

Bergeron and Klawunn met with the committee to provide feedback on the qualities they said should be considered in potential candidates, but they are not allowed to offer input on individual candidates, committee members said. Associate deans of the College also advised on the search process in a recent meeting with committee members, Armitage said.

Feedback from other employees in the Office of the Dean of the College was particularly helpful because many staff members have worked with multiple deans of the College, Armitage said. Associate deans of the College described “what some of the more successful (deans of the College) had in common … and what kinds of things would be helpful,” she said.

Committee members cannot ask the community for feedback on specific candidates, said Andrew Foster, professor of economics and a committee member. But the diversity of groups represented on the committee will ensure that multiple views are accounted for when a final decision is made, he said.


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