This past summer, Whittier College began their search for a new Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs. The position’s responsibilities have since been taken over by Interim Dean sal johnston. The Cochair of the search committee for the Vice President of Academic Affairs is Gil Gonzalez, who states that Dean johnston is guiding faculty through curricular reform; “[He’s]looking at policies and practices to maximize the efficiencies of the Division of Academic Affairs.”
Dean johnston is not the only person working to keep the Division of Academic Affairs. According to Cochair Gonzalez, the Division of Academic Affairs is a “well-run machine,” and he believes their choice for Interim Dean allows things to “keep moving forward.” In fact, faculty is confident that “most people do not realize we are without a permanent Dean.”
In searching for a new Dean of Faculty, the Division of Academic Affairs first is preparing for the new addition by devoting their “time to finish our current projects and set the table for the permanent leader to come in and help take [them] to the next level,” according to Gonzalez. Next on the agenda is defining the priorities of the position. “The Dean reports to the President of the College,” said Cochair Gonzalez. “[So], the priorities for the position will likely develop through the search process and align with the mission and strategic planning the College is currently undergoing.”
The search has made progress since its start this summer. It began by interviewing “search firms that submitted proposals to the College to help coordinate the process,” according to Gonzalez, though he warns that “[t]his is hard to accurately predict. The College needs to be meticulous and thorough.” Students can expect to have a new Dean of Faculty “before the end of the academic year,” though an accurate timeline for their implementation is difficult to predict.
As for how the search committee expects the campus to be affected by having a new Dean of Faculty, Cochair Gonazalez says that results rely heavily on the character of the appointed candidate. “A lot will hinge on who the permanent Dean is,” he said. “The position naturally leans into the strengths of whomever is in the role.”
As of now, there is no set date as to when the new Dean of Faculty will begin their role. This is because predicting a start date when a candidate has not yet been chosen can be difficult. “The College needs to be meticulous and thorough,” said Gonzalez on the hiring process. For a rough estimate of the new Dean’s introduction to campus, the committee predicts “before the end of the academic year.”
The committee assures, however, that hiring a permanent Dean of Faculty is a top priority for the campus. When asked about how the campus will rank this search’s priority with that of the search for the new Title IX Coordinator/Dean of Students, Gonzalez said that “both roles are equally important as the College moves forward with equity and inclusion initiatives.” CoChair Gonzalez also emphasizes the high-ranking importance of the search for the new Dean of Faculty as it relates to the Title IX Coordinator’s responsibilities. “The academic program is the largest part of the College,” he said. “Title IX is extremely important for all employees and students of Whittier College, and the Dean of Faculty will work on Title IX matters as they relate to the faculty.”
As of now, the search continues. Stay tuned to school emails and read new editions of the QC to follow the story.