Bates College is nothing if not fastidious in our selection of faculty members. Our professors are constantly striving to make their endeavors with both students and the Bates administration run as smoothly as possible. To facilitate this, Bates maintains a Dean of Faculty, who doubles as the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Our current Dean is Prof. Kathryn Low, but she is currently an interim. Bates is on the search for a new, permanent Dean/Vice President.
Professor Low assumed the position after Matthew Auer, the Dean of Faculty from 2013-2017, left in June after being appointed to a deanship at the University of Georgia. A faculty and administration-lead committee has been tasked with hiring a replacement for Auer and Low after they were elected into the committee by their colleagues in the spring. The roster consists of President Clayton Spencer, Director of the Harward Center Darby Ray, and Ann Marie Russell, the Director of Institutional Research, Analysis, and Planning, who are accompanied by professors Alexandre Dauge-Roth, Jason Castro, Michael Sargent, Alison Melnick, Meredith Greer, Mara Tieken, Andrew Kennedy, and Jane Costlow.
I spoke with Costlow, the committee’s chair and designated spokesperson, on what the Bates faculty is looking for in the new Dean. She said that diligence and careful attention to detail are paramount to this job search, as “this position is probably one of the most important at the college.”
In this position, the Dean is in charge of recruiting new faculty and promotes discourse amongst professors across departments and the administration. The Dean is also in charge of the curricular pedagogies of Bates, including General Education requirements and the overall academic program. The Office of the Dean of Faculty supports and oversees several bodies at Bates, including the academic departments, the Harward Center, the Office of the Registrar, and many others.
Costlow described the job as “extraordinarily complicated. The Dean of Faculty needs to be collaborative but also a leader who helps the faculty however they can. For example, given limited resources, the Dean should have ideas on how the college could move ahead on all sorts of exciting academic fronts at Bates.”
The committee has been searching extensively both inside the Bates professional staff and across higher education institutions in the United States. They have put up an advertisement on Isaacson, Miller, a recruitment agency that works with universities of all tiers (private, community, public) to hire staff members. The position is open to individuals across disciplines and at various stages in their career. However, the candidate is required to have both a PhD and years of experience as a faculty member at a university and/or college.
Additionally, Costlow stated that an “absolutely essential part of our search is a candidate who is strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. They need to understand Bates’ identity as an institution committed to progress and academic rigor. The new Dean should also see where Bates is not living up to its mission and how to move forward in those realms.”
While the search has taken several months, Costlow said that the committee is hoping to fill the position as soon as possible. This search has also intentionally been very low profile, as it involves many moving parts amongst the professors and the Administration. Confidentiality is key to remaining impartial and precise. However, the committee’s search is on the agenda of the Bates College Student Government’s meeting on October 4, and they will be holding an open listening session in Commons 211 from 12:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. on October 5. They want students to hear the faculty’s goals and be able voice their own concerns on matters such as General Education requirements and administration in bodies like the Academic Resource Commons.
The future is yet to be determined, but one can only wish the electoral committee the best of luck in finding someone who truly embodies what it means to be a Bobcat.