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Committee forms to continue Tisch College dean search

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 08:11


Ashley Seenauth / Tufts Daily Archives

The university has assembled a committee to locate a replacement for former Dean of Tisch College Robert Hollister..

After a delay of longer than a year, the university has convened a search committee to locate and hire the next dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.

The college suspended its search for a new dean in March 2011, following inaugural Dean Robert Hollister’s announcement in September 2010 of his intention to retire at the end of the 2011−2012 academic year.

According to Interim Dean of Tisch College Nancy Wilson, the search was postponed because of impending changes in university leadership, as Provost and Senior Vice President Emeritus Jamshed Bharucha left Tufts to assume the presidency at The Cooper Union.

“We started the search in fall 2010, and it went on hiatus when [Bharucha] announced he was leaving,” Wilson said. “We suspended the search, and I was asked to step in [in] July 2011,” Wilson said.

She has held the position for almost a year and a half and previously served as associate dean of Tisch College for seven years.

“It is difficult to recruit deans when you can’t tell them to whom they will be reporting,” Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris told the Daily in an email, referring to the absence of a provost when the search initially began. “We are excited to hire a new dean now so that Tisch can continue to build on the success it has experienced in recent years.”

The professional search firm Spencer Stuart will spearhead the search process, and Harris will act as the committee chair.

Representatives from Spencer Stuart conducted meetings with various deans, members of Tisch College, Tisch Scholars for Citizenship and Public Service and the Tisch College Board of Advocates to gather university input, according to Wilson.

The committee, which is comprised of faculty, university administrators, students, alumni and community associates, first met two weeks ago, according to sophomore Emani Holyfield, a member of the search committee.

The search will extend into spring 2013, Wilson said. Harris and University President Anthony Monaco will make the final decision, according to Holyfield.

The search committee will help in designing the job description, creating an outreach strategy and participating in the screening and interviewing process, according to a Nov. 2 email announcement sent out by Tisch College.

Holyfield said that the committee has already begun drafting a job description, which will soon be available online.

“The Tisch College dean role is a little different than a traditional dean role because Tisch College isn’t your normal college,” Wilson said. “There is no faculty, we do not offer degrees. We ... need someone who understands [the] university environment and who is thinking [about] how ... you introduce civic skills into [the] broader university environment.”

In addition to bringing the mission of Tisch College to the wider university community, the dean manages and supports the college by building research and collaboration, Wilson said.

“At Tisch we don’t try to work with and partner with every program, but provide tools and frameworks so other programs can build into and carry on without us,” she said. “There are lots of people doing amazing work around the university, and civic learning is in that.”

Wilson said she is interested in seeing how the university−wide strategic planning process, which will identify the university’s goals over the course of the next decade, will play into the role of the dean of Tisch College.

“There [are] a lot of ways that active citizenship and engagement feature in elements of that strategic planning process,” she said. “It’s exciting to have a dean coming in toward the end of the process and being able to see what kind of agenda emerges.”

The new dean will have the opportunity to expand the relationships that Tisch College has formed with the university community over the past 10 to 12 years, according to Wilson.

“We talk about inspiring students to want to be active citizens, and to strengthen skills and meet students where they are,” Wilson said, noting that many students are directly and indirectly impacted by Tisch College through programs such as the Leonard Carmichael Society, LIFT, Jumpstart, Tisch Scholars and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Holyfield hopes that Tisch College will grow as a resource throughout the university, as well as increase its presence beyond the Tufts community.

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