Second of 4 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean candidates holds forum

Susan Williams, vice dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State University, was introduced on Thursday as the second of four candidates for the next UI liberal-arts college dean.


Chris Borro, News Reporter

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences hosted Susan Williams, vice dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Ohio State University, as the second candidate for the college’s new dean.

Williams spoke during her forum on Thursday in the Pappajohn Business Building. David Ryfe, co-chair of the dean search committee and director of the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, introduced Williams to the audience.

Williams began the forum by introducing herself through a speech and PowerPoint presentation. She discussed three areas of what to focus on in liberal-arts fields: how to make it accessible and affordable for students, how to define what it means in a contemporary setting, and how to support public research on campus.

“I think it’s important to tell the story of CLAS all the time … and figuring out how to make it more fun and rewarding for having faculty and staff talk about their public research is a good thing,” Williams said.

She also talked about how to increase student success, particularly among transfer students. Williams then answered a question the search committee had devised about which contemporary forces shape the environment of public universities.

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“If you talk to a lot of presidents and faculty … in liberal-arts colleges that are increasingly vying for our students, they are struggling on how to add to their student opportunities. [The UI has] already got all of that without having to partner with somebody,” Williams said.

Ryfe asked Williams some questions from the audience. These included issues regarding how she supported teaching at Ohio State and would continue to do so at UI, her experience with changing curriculum in the Liberal Arts college at Ohio State and her visions for it at UI, and how she would advocate for fixed-term faculty.

She was also asked about her experiences with sustainability education and research and how she would support students, faculty, and staff.

“I think most deans think that any interaction with students is the best part of the job, and it is,” she said.

The search for a new dean is the result of former dean Chaden Djalali’s departure from the UI at the end of the 2017-18 academic year. He has since accepted a position as executive vice president and provost of Ohio University.

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