CLA dean candidate list narrowed to six

The finalists will start giving public interviews next week.

by Alma Pronove

The list for the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts has been narrowed down to six finalists.

After former CLA Dean James Parente announced in March his plans to step down, a committee started recruiting candidates and conducting interviews over the summer to fill the vacancy. The names of the six finalists have not been announced.

Over the next month, candidates will participate in public interviews on campus, give presentations and meet with CLA faculty members and deans from other colleges.

“I think they’re all terrific people, and I think there are a lot of very thoughtful notions about the future of liberal arts,” said College of Design Dean Tom Fisher, who chairs the search committee.

In July, political science department chair Raymond Duvall was appointed to serve as the college’s interim dean until a replacement is found.

The names of the six finalists will not be announced until 24 hours before their respective public interviews “in order to
provide the candidates with adequate time to inform their current colleagues of their participation in this search,” according to a Wednesday email from Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson.

Fisher said the interview process, which starts next week, will be “grueling.”

“Having worked with most of those on the committee, I can tell you they’re very attuned to the biggest issues facing students and facing higher education,” Parente said.

Fisher said the search committee, comprised of students, faculty members and administrators, is looking for a “visionary” to lead CLA, which is the University’s largest college with nearly 15,900 students.

“Being a dean requires that you’re able to articulate clearly and concisely a vision for your disciplines to both your internal audience as well as the outside role,” he said. “Deans need to be pretty good managers, good listeners and find fundraising enjoyable.”

The original candidate list was compiled over the summer by the Illinois-based executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, which the University hired. The search committee then narrowed the list.

At the beginning of fall semester, the committee started conducting private interviews with each of the remaining candidates.

Parente, now a professor in the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch,  stepped down from his role as dean last summer so he could pursue research and teaching.

“I hope they find someone who is passionate about advocating for the liberal arts,” he said.

Fisher said the six candidates are “top candidates that could go anywhere” and the final decision is simply a matter of finding the right fit for the University.

“In addition to evaluating these candidates, we need to sell the value of coming to the [University] and the Twin Cities,” he said. “We have bit of a sales job to do.”

The public interviews will be conducted at Walter Library and Anderson Hall. The footage will be streamed live online and available for later viewing.

In Wednesday’s email, Hanson encouraged students to attend the sessions and provide her with feedback about the candidates.

The last interview is set for Nov. 21, and a final decision will likely be announced in December.

The new dean’s starting date is uncertain, according to University spokesman Steve Henneberry.