Second candidate for dean of College of Human Sciences talks challenges

Rakiah Bonjour

The second candidate for dean of the College of Human Sciences, Laura Dunn Jolly, spoke at an open forum Tuesday afternoon about what challenges she sees within the college and how to combat them.

A graduate from the University of Mississippi, Oxford and Oklahoma State, Dunn Jolly has served as a professor in retail, hospitality and tourism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; chair of the interior design, merchandising and textiles department at the University of Kentucky, Lexington and most recently as the vice president for instruction at the University of Georgia.

Dunn Jolly identified challenges every College of Human Sciences has come into contact with across the nation. Those challenges included enhancing student access and success, enhancing research enterprise to address societal challenges, fostering economic development and community engagement and sustaining excellence.

She said in order to provide scholarships, make college degrees more affordable, recruit and retain a diverse student body and provide hands-on learning, the college must “systematically develop programs to meet the needs of certain populations” and “look at student success at admission through to university graduation.”

“The problem is complex,” Dunn Jolly said. “There’s not any one size fits all, but creating programs that are tailored to specific populations would be one area that we have seen progress and possibility.”

Dunn Jolly plans on enhancing research enterprise to address societal challenges by building a culture of health at Iowa State and building a system that will support faculty.

“We have opportunities on the horizon to match the expertise of the College of Human Sciences,” Dunn Jolly said. “We’ve got to be able to respond to RFPs in a timely manner. We’ve got to be able to integrate instruction, resource and service and sustain critical mass of faculty.”

Dunn Jolly wants to ensure the college is positioned to respond and provide a leadership to students and faculty. By developing strong programs and expanding opportunities in international areas, Dunn Jolly said economic development and community engagement will be well-rounded.

“There are vibrant programs in place … the land grant tradition is alive and well in the College of Human Sciences,” Dunn Jolly said. “Expanding on these opportunities is increasingly beneficial.”

Dunn Jolly said the most important challenge the college faces is sustaining excellence, which requires resources by the university.

“That would be people, that would be programs, that would be facilities, that would be infrastructure, that would be lots of things that are expensive and would require funneling of resources,” Dunn Jolly said.

She continued, saying that “attracting and retaining a professional staff and creating a climate where people [within the university] can thrive” leads to a productive and innovative college.

The most important part of sustaining excellence starts with the students, she said.

“We need to start with the students and create a desire within them to give back,” Dunn Jolly said. “I’m hearing about a strong, supportive, robust alumni base within the college and we need to expand on that.”

Dunn Jolly described herself as “a human scientist by many different names.”

“I’ve always valued the holistic view by looking at a system but always looking at people in context. As a human scientist you look at the total person and not one facet,” Dunn Jolly said. “I recognize I need to look around the edges of that and understand the human within that environment.”

Dunn Jolly said she can bring that holistic approach to the college and has created a philosophy of scholarship, leadership and learning throughout her journey in higher education to help that approach.

“I think that the college is at a very enviable position with a diverse range of disciplines but all centered on the human sciences,” Dunn Jolly said. “I think the dean can facilitate and support and work with faculty in identifying those priorities and how we would address those grand challenges and sustain excellence. It’s not going to be one person, it’s going to be all of us working together.”