Forum held with final College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean candidate

DoVeanna Fulton from the University of Houston-Downtown held a forum as the last of four candidates for the new dean of the UI CLAS.


Katie Goodale

DoVeanna Fulton addresses audience members during the CLAS forum in the Pappajohn Business Building on Thursday Oct. 25, 2018. Fulton is the fourth finalist for the position. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Chris Borro, News Reporter

The final candidate for the position of the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences dean was introduced to faculty, staff, and students on Thursday.

DoVeanna Fulton, the dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Houston-Downtown, began her forum in the Pappajohn Business Building by discussing her educational and professional history. She then presented a PowerPoint to answer a question selected by the Dean Search Committee.

 She said the contemporary forces affecting the liberal arts are primarily sociocultural, technological, and financial.

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 There is a push toward focusing on professional degrees and workforce skills, which denigrates the value of a liberal-arts degree, she said.

 “I think … what has happened is that there’s been this dismissal or lack of trust for university knowledge,” Fulton said.

 She proposed a “center for social justice and democracy,” which she described as a broad-scale public-engagement project.

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“We need to be at the center of public issues and changing the culture of public engagement surrounding liberal arts,” she said.

The proposed center would allow Liberal Arts faculty to converse with the Iowa City community on current events topics from a national and international level, Fulton said.

“One of the ways to engage the public is to present for public consumption our expertise around major issues of the day,” Fulton said.

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 She also advocated for introducing environmental humanities classes and expanding online classes.

“We’re the experts, so why not offer potential opportunities for the students to pursue?” she said.

David Ryfe, the director of the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication and co-chair of the search committee, introduced the candidate to the around 100-strong audience. During the final 20 minutes of the forum, Ryfe collected questions from the audience for Fulton.

Queries included the times she had to make unpopular decisions and how she managed the reaction, her views on the role of nontenure-track faculty, and how she managed student-success programs.

The previous Liberal Arts dean, Chaden Djalali, left the position at the end of the 2017-18 school year to become the executive vice president and provost at Ohio University.