So you want to be a Dean?

So you want to be a Dean?
Mercer's college of Liberal Arts dean Lake Lambert III leaves to become president of Hanover College. Picture from Mercer Marketing.
Mercer’s college of Liberal Arts dean Lake Lambert III leaves to become president of Hanover College. Picture from Mercer Marketing.

Along with the numerous changes in Mercer’s landscaping and student programs, two of the 12 main educational tracks are experiencing a major faculty exchange. The Dean of Liberal Arts, Dean Lambert, has decided to take the President position at Hanover College in Indiana.

Dean Lambert has been a part of Mercer’s administration for five years. During his five years, he has been held primarily responsible for supervising and offering guidance towards matters of governance, budget, curriculum and personnel of the University’s largest and oldest academic unit.

To stay connected to students, Dean Lambert has continued to teach INT 101, 201, and 301 classes when it could fit in his schedule. According to the other administration members, such as Ms. Pamela Benedict, in the Liberal Arts College, Dr. Lambert “has helped the college grow academically stronger despite the larger class numbers”. His student-oriented mindset will help him develop at Hanover College as a well-loved president.

With his departure, however, Mercer University needs to find a new administrator. As a result, Dr. Keith Howard, the friendly professor and chair of mathematics, will be functioning as the interim Dean for Liberal Arts.

Effective July 1, 2015, Professor Howard is stepping in to fulfill the duties of Dean while Mercer performs a search for a full-time Dean. The President and Provost have already formed a search committee for the job but according to Professor Howard the process will take at least six months to find, interview, and hire a new Dean.

First, Mercer sends out an application proclaiming the open position. Howard said the search committee will be sending out the application in the next few weeks so that other colleges and applicants will be informed before the summer term begins. Once applications begin filing in, the search committee will look over the resumes. If an applicant’s resume satisfies the committee, they will be invited to an off-campus interview.

If the person passes the first interview, a second interview will be conducted on campus. The interviewee will then be able to get a first-hand experience of the university’s atmosphere.

The final decision, made by the President and Provost, is based on their own preferences, the thoughts from the search committee, and the requirements for the position.

“The most-desired candidate characteristic we are looking for in a Dean,” Howard says, “is the zeal to further student academic excellence, organization, patience, and discernment.”

Furthermore, Howard said “a truly great Dean may not be well-known by the students, but he is known and loved by his faculty and staff. He works as an invisible hand; when things are running smoothly, that is a sign of the Dean’s hard work behind the scenes.”

However, Howard says the one drawback behind becoming interim Dean is that the job requires devotion to the mechanics behind the college’s education details more than interaction with students.  Howard, as freshman Joe Dusseau claims, “shows he really loves his students. It will be a bummer that he won’t be teaching class next semester!”.

Howard himself declares that “it will be a huge change for me [to be Dean] because I majored in Mathematics and education so I could build relationships with students.”

The professors at Mercer are valued not only for their quality teaching but also for their dedicated attention to students. Dr. Howard is no exception.  He is excited to experience a position in administration but will miss the daily contact with multiple classes.