Allegheny Student Government held its weekly meeting in Grounds for Change to provide a new venue more visible to constituents on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Allegheny College President James Mullen visited the meeting to discuss the college’s search for a new dean of students.
Mullen said the administration is currently looking for a new dean, though the search was initially delayed because of Mullen’s plan to retire in the spring of 2019.
“This is too important a decision to put off,” Mullen said. “To make sure we’re getting the strongest pool [of candidates] possible, we are using a respected search firm.”
The firm Allegheny is using is Koya Leadership Partners, a firm that specializes in finding talented leadership in institutions of higher education, according to its website. The lead consultant from Koya will be on campus Tuesday, March 6, and Wednesday, March 7, to begin the formal process, Mullen said. Since he will be working with the firm, Mullen elaborated on what he deemed were necessary qualities for the new dean.
“We want the search to be inclusive, since the dean has an impact on everyone on campus,” Mullen said. “[The dean] has to care about the students. It can’t be someone who is in the job simply because it’s a good spot. [They] also have to understand the complexity of issues students are facing today.”
Because students are facing new sets of problems on college campuses today, the new dean must be a good listener and must be able to work with large groups of people, according to Mullen.
“First and foremost, you have to care about students,” Mullen said. “You have to have empathy. You have to be ready to work long days into long nights. You have to love it. It’s a very worthwhile job.”
The firm will narrow down candidates based on the qualities Allegheny says it is looking for. After that, the pool of candidates will go to a search committee, which will continue to narrow down the pool through an interview processes. Once the final candidates are chosen, they will be invited to campus for a presentation, according to Mullen.
If Interim Dean of Student Jacquie Kondrot chooses to retire after this academic year, and a candidate still has not been chosen, the administration will try to plan an interim arrangement. The arrangement will depend on the amount of time the position will remain open.
“If we really have the person we want, but the person cannot come until the start of second semester, that’s a different conversation,” Mullen said. “If it’s a couple of weeks or a month, that’s easier to manage.”
The administration also plans to work with ASG to learn what students want in a new dean, as the organization represents the student body, Mullen said.
Next week, ASG will be able to list what it sees as the most critical needs that must be met by the dean and will fill out a survey to continue narrowing down the desired characteristics. Furthermore, if members of ASG are still on campus in the summer, they will continue to be involved in the process, while those unable to stay on campus will be active in other ways that have not yet been determined, according to Mullen.
“This will be perhaps the last big hire made under my administration,” Mullen said. “I want it to be a really good one, so I promise you I will be engaged in this from day one as well.”
Following Mullen’s presentation, Co-Director of Student Affairs Travis Court, ’18, reported on his meeting with Campus Life and Community Standards to discuss the potential changes concerning academic and nonacademic honor code violations.
Currently, if a student has any sort of nonacademic violation prior to an academic violation, the student must automatically go through a full hearing process during the academic violation rather than a fast-track process, according to Court.
“The body of ASG and the committee as a whole didn’t find that was the most efficient, because it led to a lot of hearings,” Court said.
CLCS approved a preliminary plan to change the current rules and will discuss the new plan with Assistant Dean of Students Joe Hall and other faculty members, according to Court.
The college may be undergoing further changes that will affect faculty and staff, according to Chief of Staff Camila Gomez, ’19. Gomez talked about her meeting with College Committees Council held during the past week.
“The college is now considering outsourcing departments like Physical Plant,” Gomez said. “Bringing in an outside contractor would be a big shift. A lot of employees have been with college for a very long time, so it would be a big decision.”
The plan is currently only in preliminary stages, according to Gomez.
Along with the idea of outsourcing certain departments, the Printing Service and College Post Office may be combined into one area to save money, Gomez said.
“Generally, faculty and staff are dealing with transitions having to do with the retirement incentive and the staffing changes that are going to be moving up in the next year,” Gomez said. “It’s a little bit of a tense moment, but we’re hoping to push through it.”