Three dean of arts and sciences finalists visit, meet campus

The search for a new dean of arts and sciences is nearing its completion after campus visits were conducted in March by the three final candidates. The committee responsible for the search is currently reviewing the responses of faculty, administrators and students who attended these campus visits.

Michael Wanous was the first of the three candidates to visit campus. He is currently the associate dean at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. He is also part of their biology department. Some of his achievements there include creating a faculty mentoring program and requiring pre-mentoring teaching observation to improve the quality of faculty within his department.

“I wanted our faculty to be really great teachers,” Wanous said during one of his sessions with Concordia staff.

Wanous also stressed the importance of his work during his time as chair of Augustana’s natural science division. While in that position, he helped to create and implement a biochemistry major, and he repurposed some unused space into a research space for the chemistry department.

“I feel like Concordia’s in a great place,” Wanous said.

The second candidate to visit campus was Anne Hiskes, the current interim dean for interdisciplinary programs and faculty development at the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has also worked in the areas of philosophy and history, especially with the subject of philosophy of science. In fact, she has made several international presentations on the subject.

“I… believe that faculty have a responsibility to approach their own teaching with a scholarly attitude of inquiry, self-assessment and improvement,” Hiskes said in the resume she sent to Concordia.

The final candidate to visit campus was Daniel Hofrenning, a Concordia alumnus from the class of 1980 who is currently Associate Dean of the Social Sciences at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Hofrenning is a member of the political science department at St. Olaf and has published a variety of works in the area.

Hofrenning explained that he was attracted to Concordia for many of the same reasons he is attracted to St. Olaf: strong religious identity, a continuous preservation of tradition and high value placed on good education. He is also attracted to Concordia’s Christian association and the steps that are being taken to facilitate interfaith dialogue.

“I think it’s a good challenge for Lutheran students to understand other traditions as well as their own,” Hofrenning said. “We would be doing a disservice if we only sought our mission in a more narrower way.”

Hofrenning also stated that the standard Concordia sets for itself should be continuously examined.

“I think we should have a harder, stronger conversation about what we can do better than anywhere else because of our unique setting.”

The three candidates each had three open sessions to meet faculty, administrators and students. At each of the sessions, attendees were asked to fill out a form with their reflections and questions for the candidates. These forms are now being reviewed by the search committee.

Cindy Carver, who chaired the committee to find the new dean of arts and sciences, gave some information on how the process worked. She and four other faculty members were first voted into the committee, which also includes the provost. They then made advertisements and asked for nominations and suggestions for potential candidates. From over two dozen candidates, the committee then chose the final three who came to campus to visit.

“The search committee is really pleased with the quality of the candidate pool,” Carver said.

The current dean of arts and sciences is James Aageson of the religion department. Aageson agreed to hold the position for three years and is now moving back to the religion department because his term is up.

“I’ve enjoyed this job… but I am looking forward to going back and working with students and colleagues,” Aageson said.

His current position involves working with all of the academic programs “from art to women’s studies” minus the school of business and the athletics department. Aageson is responsible for a variety of activities including hiring staff, course scheduling, faculty evaluation and budget managing. In addition, the academic division chairs all report to him.

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