Several Promoted In Dean's OfficeBy Andy Stark
The Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs recently made several organizational changes. Several members of its staff received promotions, some to newly created positions.
The promotions fell into two major categories, according to Dean Arthur C. Smith. The first type were promotions that rewarded good service without bringing any major changes in responsibility. In this spirit, former Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Travis R. Merritt was promoted to Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
According to Smith, over time Merritt has gained responsibility over more and more functions, and "a suitable way to recognize [Merritt's] increased scope of activity was the [new] title." Although Merritt is now also a dean, he still reports to Smith.
The second type of reorganization changed the responsibilities of some of the members of the department in order to attempt to make everything run more efficiently. The need for these changes, according to Smith, arose a few years ago when the department of undergraduate education was combined with the department of student affairs to form the current department. Smith said that certain functions performed separately by these two departments were redundant.
In addition, the merger brought many additional programs under Smith's control and gave him "more [work] than I could do promptly," he said. "It was clear that I needed to be able to delegate more of this."
In order to alleviate this problem, Robert M. Randolph was promoted to Senior Associate Dean. Randolph described his new position as being "at [Smith's] back." He performs some activities that Smith would have done in the past in order to free Smith for things he is "better positioned to do."
Randolph is currently overseeing such things as housing assignments for next year, including the possibility of a new dormitory and funding for the Technology in Culture seminar. "I'll continue to work with students, but it will be a less significant part of my time," he said. Although he has taken over some of Smith's responsibilities, the other members of the department still report to Smith and not to Randolph.
Randolph was formerly associate dean and section head of Student Assistant Services. This section of the department was split up into two distinct parts, Counseling Services and the International Students Office. Jacqueline R. Simonis was named associate dean and section head of Counseling services, and Milena M. Levak was promoted to associate dean and section head of the International Students Office. Randolph will retain some of his former responsibilities, such as being on-call in the case of tragedies or emergencies.
In addition, Arnold R. Henderson Jr. was promoted to associate dean in Counseling, Susan D. Allen was named associate dean of Residence and Campus Activities, and Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook was named assistant dean in the International Students Office. Debbie H. Shoap has been promoted to staff associate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program office, taking over the duties of Claude J. Poux, who is now at Cornell University.
Most of these changes were made a long time ago, as far back as last June, although they were only announced recently. They were not all made at the same time, but they "all came together because the process of promotion involved approval by the Provost," Smith said. The proposals for the promotions all ended up on Provost Mark S. Wrighton's desk at the same time, Smith explained.
The changes were not announced until early February. There wasn't any specific reason for this, Smith said. "We were so busy we just didn't get around to [making] the announcement," Randolph said.
Since the changes occurred that long ago, the members of the department have been able to see the results, at least somewhat. "The nature of my work has not really changed that much," Merritt said. He oversees undergraduate academic activities, such as UROP, Independent Activities Period, Residence and Orientation Week, and the Wellesley Exchange Program.
Merritt said that much of his effort is focused on the freshman year, including the freshman core curriculum. He wants to try to improve the way the curriculum is structured in order to get students excited intellectually as freshmen, not only when they are upperclassmen in a major. He hopes to achieve this by reducing the size of freshman classes and convincing departments to put more weight on teaching skills rather than research.
Merritt said he feels that the organization of the department is successful. He has "good collaborative lines" with other members of the department. For example, Undergraduate Acadamic Affairs works closely with Residence and Campus Activities in organizing R/O week.
Although Smith said it is too early to determine exactly how well the reorganization is working, he did say that it is improving over time. In discussing some of the responsiblities that he delegated to others, he said, "You'd like them to do everything the way you would've done it, but you're never going to achieve that. It takes practice."
As for the future, Smith, Merritt, and Randolph all said that no more changes are forseeable now. Promotions are limited by budget constraints. "I hope this reorganization will allow more work to get done by less people," Smith said. Some positions that were recently vacated have not been filled in an effort to save money and to pay for the promotions.
Merritt was optimistic about the success of the department's efforts in the future. "Everybody's got a lot of work to do; we just have to sort of get on with it."