Dean of Human Sciences open forums begin

Jake Dalbey

The first of three candidate open forums slated to determine the new dean of the College of Human Sciences took place Monday at Morrill Hall with a packed house of 57 attendees.

Cheryl Hanley Maxwell, associate dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about the issues and trends in the department of human sciences across the nation and campuses in general. She also provided insight on future programs and initiatives that could be making their way to Iowa State.

Maxwell began by highlighting several important human sciences trends that are affecting universities today, one of which was the growing technological focus in the classroom as well as the diversity of mediums from which students can access information.

“Students don’t read books anymore,” Maxwell said. “They have social media, they tweet and they do a lot of their interacting in different mediums, and we as a department have to be able address those mediums and integrate them into our learning.”

Maxwell cited her time in schooling during the early years of the Internet and said she sees the rapid growth as a sign of changing times. Gaming and virtual reality simulations are among the most prevalent of new technologies available to use in education. Maxwell see’s these advances as ways to teach students and faculty in ways that were not possible in the past.

“As a part of the learning community, I would love to create a game about a teacher with a class of naughty kids and must take care of them,” Maxwell said. “They can fail within the game and play over and over again. It’s a very popular medium in today’s world.”

The growing workloads carried by faculty were not only discussed in Maxwell’s presentation but also during the brief Q&A session. Ways to relieve stress for those who feel burdened was also discussed.

“What I see happening is that the faculty role is getting bigger and bigger,” Maxwell said. “Eventually someone is going to yell ‘uncle.'”

Masters work with graduate students, internships and advisory roles were some of the tasks that Maxwell said added hours to her week on top of her role as the dean, leading to an 80-hour week. Maxwell plans to fix this issue through a lateral audit of every faculty member’s time to ensure that steps can be taken to lighten the load carried by many educators and office workers.

Maxwell’s presentation ended after she talked about budgets for not only the department but also student tuition and the growing student debt crisis.

“We know student debt is soaring, but we need to find ways to fray the costs while they are here and find them opportunities to work and access the classes and opportunities we are providing them,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell stressed budget restraint as she talked about the dwindling funding for higher education, a problem she doesn’t see ending anytime soon. Maxwell stated the importance of staying vigilant when assessing the many human sciences budgets as low funds create panic situations and decisions, but also can lead to silly spending choices.

The dean of the College of Human Sciences open forums will continue with the second candidate, whose information will be released Thursday, speaking at 4 p.m. March 29 in Bessey Hall.