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University selects 4 candidates for CLA dean

Two professors will meet with faculty and students later this week, and the others will visit Main Campus in late April to early May.

The College of Liberal Arts will hold meetings this week for two possible candidates to replace interim dean William Stull as head of the university’s second biggest college or school on Main Campus.

Candidates Dr. Susan Roberts, geography professor and associate dean for international affairs at the University of Kentucky, and Dr. Eric Arnesen, history professor and executive associate dean for faculty affairs at George Washington University, will talk to students and faculty members from CLA, according to information released on TUportal last week.

Two other candidates are slated to visit Main Campus later this month and early May. Jodi Levine Laufgraben, vice provost for academic affairs, said the university cannot release their names because administration wants students to “focus on the candidates as they come,” and that all four were promised confidentiality when they entered Temple’s search.

“Confidentiality is a key aspect of a search, particularly a senior leadership search,” she said. “Many of the candidates that we have talked to … they’re quite happy where they are, they weren’t necessarily looking for another job.

“Should they not get this position, they don’t want their colleagues on their campus thinking they’re going to leave,” Laufgraben added. “So really, the only ones that will ever be known are the finalists.”

Temple’s administration gives the finalists advance notice in order to inform their colleagues at their universities, Laufgraben said.

The last permanent CLA dean, Teresa Soufas, resigned in January 2015 due to health reasons. The school has also dealt with multiple protests after the university did not renew Dr. Anthony Monteiro’s contract in May 2014.

Laufgraben said students and faculty can ask the candidates about those issues and the future of CLA at its public meetings.

Roberts said Saturday she is excited about the opportunity.

“The next dean is going to be somebody who has to be a strong leader and who can really articulate in a convincing and compelling way the value of liberal arts in today’s world,” she said. “That’s a challenge facing leaders of liberal arts colleges across the nation, and I think it’s no different at Temple.”

Arnesen could not be reached for comment.

Laufgraben said a 12-person search advisory committee—consisting of five CLA faculty members, one undergraduate and graduate student, two faculty members outside the college, a senior-level administrator, another administrator and member of CLA’s Board of Visitors—helped lead the search process for the four finalists.

She added the four candidates are strong scholars, teachers and researchers and also have experience in administration which would be a good fit for Temple. The new dean must be sound in areas “not that much different than the rest of the university,” she said.

The new dean must also attract new students by helping faculty develop new programs and illustrating the value of a liberal arts degree, Laufgraben added.

“A parent will come to an open house and say, ‘Shouldn’t my son and daughter major in business? What would [they] do with a degree in liberal arts?’” she said. “It’s really important that the new dean articulate the vision and the critical importance of a liberal arts education.”

Since the search took a full academic year, the candidates’ visits are occurring near finals week, one of the busiest times for students academically. Laufgraben said the year-long search is typical to develop the best possible pool of candidates.

“We’re hoping folks will take 45 minutes or an hour or so—maybe it’s a nice study break—as a chance to meet the candidates,” she said.

Laufgraben said that after the finalists have visited campus, the Search Advisory Committee will send recommendations to the provost and president. She added administrators will review and discuss those during the summer, and the university is aiming to announce CLA’s new dean by the start of Fall 2016.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@temple.edu or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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