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New administrative position to integrate engaged scholarship, academics

Julie Plaut to take on role as Assistant Dean of College, Director of Faculty Engagement

Julie Plaut will assume the inaugural role of Assistant Dean of the College and Director of Faculty Engagement and Research this April. Her position will involve integrating the public service work of the Swearer Center for Public Service with the academic work of the University, said Dean of the College Maud Mandel.

Plaut will help manage faculty members and fellows interested in engaged scholarship, build a learning community for graduate students who want to be involved in engaged scholarship and foster collaboration with faculty in regional institutions, said Mathew Johnson, associate dean of the college for engaged scholarship and director of the Swearer Center.

Her position was created as a result of the Swearer Center’s strategic plan — Community Engaged Scholarship and Action: A New Plan for the Swearer Center for Public Service, released in 2016. A central tenet of the plan seeks to increase the academic integration of the Swearer Center into the University, Johnson said. Though Plaut’s specific role is new to the University, the Swearer Center already has three staff members who are also trained as deans.

Plaut is excited by the “values and vision” of the strategic plan. Taking on this new role “felt like a distinctive opportunity to come to a place that has really committed to engaged scholarship as a core aspect of its educational mission and identity,” she said.

Plaut will also manage the Ernest A. Lynton Award, which is awarded to full-time faculty members who do not have tenure status and who connect “their teaching, research and service to community engagement,” according to Plaut and the Swearer Center’s website. She will additionally seek to recognize faculty for the work they do outside of giving awards, Plaut added.

Her current work as the executive director of the Minnesota Campus Compact has helped prepare her for the new job, Plaut said.

The role of incorporating academic work with public service and community engagement has become increasingly common at universities over the past 10 years, Johnson said. Some of the work Plaut will assume has already been conducted by the Swearer Center and she is “excited to be part of a place that’s already on a good path,” Plaut said.

“It speaks not only to the strategic plan of the Swearer Center, but also to what faculty have been saying for a number of years,” Mandel said. “There are a number of faculty thinking about ways to apply their research and their teaching to areas to be useful to and engage more fully with the Providence community.”


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