As we look toward the future and UB’s top 25 ambitions, the College is reorganizing the Dean’s Office structure in an effort to better support departments, programs, centers and institutes and to improve and streamline processes and procedures.
Goals of the reorganization:
The Associate Dean for the Social Sciences sector is the primary designee for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in essentially all matters involving the administration and oversight of departments and programs in the sector. This position is the first contact for department and program heads for all dean-level issues. The associate dean of social sciences also coordinates decisions with the other associate deans and the dean and communicates these decisions to departments and programs in the sector.
Q: How do you see your role in the College as fitting with the plans to move UB into the top 25 public research universities?
A: I intend to push for the recruitment of exceptional scholars to diversify our faculty membership, to advance new research and funding opportunities and to increase the recognition of our outstanding faculty colleagues. I am also focused on improving student success, increasing the retention of our first-year students and promoting new programs to meet student demand for rewarding careers.
Q: What are some of the opportunities you see for the College in pushing forward our research and academic mission?
A: Interest in the Social Sciences is growing. While communication, economics, and health and human services remain popular majors, programs such as criminology, environmental studies, international trade and political science have experienced sharp increases in the number of undergraduate majors. I should like to think that these students are interested in solving some of society’s most pressing issues including poverty, inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, peace, justice, and strong institutions, decent work and economic growth, and climate action, among many other topics. New degree programs such as computational linguistics, global affairs, philosophy, politics and economics will further expand the cross-disciplinary opportunities for our students and faculty colleagues.
To be successful Social Scientists, students need a toolkit comprised of theoretical knowledge, competency in qualitative, quantitative, and interdisciplinary research methods and skill in using modern technology. The increased student interest focused on society’s greatest challenges surely will drive academic and scholarly innovation within the College.
Q: What are you looking forward to learning and accomplishing in your role?
A: I should be a facilitator, working to help every department chair, every faculty and staff member, and every student achieve the professional and life-long learning success that we all desire. This means that I should listen to and think strategically with our colleagues, searching for innovative ideas, connections and solutions to broaden our impact within CAS and UB. By doing this, I then can be an advocate for the social sciences by clearly articulating a compelling vision as to why our disciplines matter now more than ever.
Q: How will you help to build a culture of collaboration across sectors and among departments, programs and institutes?
A: The current pandemic has provided abundant evidence that we need a more efficient approach to meeting our university obligations, so that we can devote more time and energy to strategic planning, scholarly endeavors and education. Reorganizing the College into sectors and creating administrative teams are important steps in fostering a culture of collaboration and efficiency. These deliberate actions should encourage research and programmatic innovation within and across disciplines and sectors.
Q: How will experiential learning be further incorporated as an integral part of the sector’s priorities?
A: Both students and employers recognize that experiential learning is a keystone activity for a successful career—it provides the hands-on knowledge and networking connections critical to jump start a student’s transition into the workplace. Degree programs such as environmental studies and health and human services have a long and successful history in placing students into meaningful internship positions. The College has recently expanded these experiential learning opportunities in the Social Sciences and is seeking ways to secure the funds necessary to support these endeavors.
The Sector Administrative Directors, a position developed as part of the College’s reorganization, are vital administrative support roles for each sector. The administrative directors will work closely with the Associate Deans in their respective sector as a strategic partner and advisor. The Sector Administrative Director will assume responsibility for key administration functions and management of processes for the sector.
Representing the range of disciplines from across the College, a committee of full professors met with candidates for the five associate dean positions and served as advisors to the dean.