First week of interviews for dean of new college debates vision, diversity

Jennifer Nacin and Kari Hoefers

The new College of Human Sciences is beginning to take shape, with two prospective dean candidates interviewing on campus this week.

On Wednesday, Pamela White, interim dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, hosted an open forum where students and faculty had the opportunity to ask questions. She addressed the issue of diversity and its role in the combination of the colleges.

White was interviewed by a 15-member search committee Tuesday as well.

Marlene Strathe, provost and senior vice president of Oklahoma State University, is scheduled to interview Thursday and Friday. The first forum is 3 p.m. Thursday in the Oak Room of the Memorial Union, and the second is at 10 a.m. Friday in 302 Catt Hall.

She is one of the other three candidates interviewing for the position.

The others have not been named.

White was asked about recruiting people into the college, her experience with female faculty throughout the years and student leadership, said Ming-Huei Lam, moderator and program coordinator for minority student recruitment and retention for Education Student Services.

White also spoke about encouraging department chairpersons and faculty to work on diversity and inclusion issues, and on how to include male students in a traditionally female college.

“It went very well. The turnout was great,” Lam said. “There was a great response from the audience.”

Dan Determan, freshman in hotel, restaurant and institution management, attended a separate forum for undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students.

Determan said White answered questions about priorities on student involvement, the differences in the colleges, and the high level of involvement and support of students.

“She did a real good job — she answered everyone’s questions and was willing to answer any questions students asked,” Determan said.

Responsibilities of the new dean will include leading the new college, developing plans and coalitions to make the new college a model for human sciences on a national level, attracting and maintaining faculty and staff and managing a $22 million budget.

Michael Whiteford, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean, said he thought vision and communication skills were the most important characteristics the new dean should possess.

“I think first and foremost we need to have somebody who really has good vision,” Whiteford said. “This is really a case where it’s not simply a question of building on two existing colleges, but vision in the sense that we are really looking at a brand-new entity.”

Students, faculty and staff are welcome to place feedback on the candidates by visiting the provost’s office Web site and submitting the evaluation form posted for each candidate.

The two other candidates will be announced the week of May 2, Carlson said.

She said they hope to name the new dean by July 1, the same day the college is officially instituted and named the College of Human Sciences.