EDITORIAL: Scrutinize candidates for Dean of Arts and Sciences
The University has narrowed down its search for a new Dean of Arts and Sciences to three candidates: Dorothy Hodgson, Jeffrey Shoulson and Lynn Stein. Each individual brings with them a wealth of experience and while this Board commends that, it is more important that the candidate chosen is one who can best meet the needs of students. One such way to do this is to place an equal emphasis on both the arts and the sciences.
The first step would be to reevaluate the University’s approach to the liberal arts curriculum. As it stands, there are several humanities classes with as few as four students enrolled. While small class sizes are appealing, classes this small are not conducive to learning or productive discourse. Additionally, some of the classes offered are very similar to others; by eliminating some similar courses, the University could thus provide a solution to the small class sizes by reducing the number of choices offered.
Beyond the issues in class choice, humanities and arts students face a unique set of problems when searching for career opportunities. The Hiatt Career Center is meant to be a resource to help students hone their skills and prepare for interviews, but this is primarily geared toward students entering business-oriented careers. There are no resources available to help students learn how to cultivate a portfolio or prepare for an audition, and this puts arts and humanities students at a disadvantage when applying for jobs in their respective fields. This board urges the new dean of Arts and Sciences to encourage the creation of resources for such students.
In reference to STEM students, the strict prerequisites in place can pose a hardship for many, specifically midyears. Many science majors offer two-semester courses and while some of these courses can be taken out of order, classes like General Biology Lab require that students take the fall semester course before the spring course. This puts midyear students at a disadvantage: not only do they have to wait another semester to take a requirement, they may also have to take summer courses to ensure that they are on track to graduate on time. On top of the already-expensive tuition, these students have to choose between paying for outside resources or for another year in school. While these prerequisites are understandable in the sense that students are meant to be at the same education level as their peers, the University should consider the implications that exist for all students.
Brandeis is marketed as a “liberal arts college and a global research university,” and if the University wants to live up to this reputation, then it needs to make sure that all students have the same resources and are able to make the best of their time here, something the new Dean of Arts and Sciences should also take into consideration.
Editor’s note: Mihir Khanna ’18 is on the Dean of Arts and Sciences search committee and is an Associate Editor for the Justice. He did not participate in writing or editing this editorial.