Brandeis searches for the next dean of arts and sciences
Lynn Andrea Stein
One candidate for the position for dean of arts and sciences of Brandeis is Lynn Andrea Stein. Currently, Stein is a professor of computer and cognitive science at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.
Stein received her Bachelor of Arts in computer science from Harvard University in 1986 and her Masters of Science and doctorate, both in computer science, from Brown University.
According to an April 3, 2017 Newswise article, Stein was named an American Council on Education Fellow. According to this article, this award “is designed to identify and prepare promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration.”
In this same article, Stein discussed how she uses her skills to help the course of higher education. She said, “I see myself allying with an institution of higher education that is committed to change and may want help formulating its direction or translating that vision into practice.”
Finally, according to a May 26, 2017 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Stein was named “special adviser to the provost and a professor of computer and cognitive science at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering,” an award that speaks to Stein’s leadership capacities, according to the article.
Stein has an extensive curriculum vitae that shows her various leadership experiences. From 2004-2005, she served on the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences Capstone Planning Group at Olin College. In addition, in 2001, 2004 and 2009, Stein served on the Faculty Search Committee for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. From 2001 to 2004 and 2015 to the present, she was a part of the Olin College Admissions Committee, and she was an admissions team leader from 2002 to 2004.
In addition, Stein served on the Academic Recommendation Board from 2004 to 2007 and was a part of the Facilities Committee from 2004 to 2005 at Olin College. In 2007 and from 2009 to 2017, Stein served on the Reappointment and Promotion Committee, also at Olin.
The full version of Stein’s CV was sent out in a April 11, 2018 email sent from the Chair of the Dean of Arts and Sciences Search Committee, Jane Kondev.
Jeffrey Shoulson, a candidate for dean of arts and sciences, is currently professor and interim vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives at the University of Connecticut.
Shoulson introduced himself to the audience at the Thursday discussion, saying, “It has been really extraordinary to learn about this institution.” He observed that people at Brandeis believe in the institution and the values it stands for and feel a sense of intimacy with each other.
Shoulson is a literary scholar with a doctorate in English. Working in the fields of conventional literary studies and Jewish studies, he has sought to understand the modern literary Jewish tradition, focusing particularly on underrepresented voices. He highlighted his experience with encounters between cultures.
“What does it mean for Brandeis to have the sort of history that it has and what does that history signify for the next 70 years of its history?” he asked, confessing that he does not have the answer to that question. He does, however, want to hear the opinions of the Brandeis community, and feels that the University should embrace its history of inclusiveness and accessibility.
Coming from a humanities background, Shoulson admitted that others, whether faculty or administration, will know more than he does in the fields of science and scientific research, saying he plans to rely on the advice of those with more knowledge of these fields in his service. He noted, however, that his experience in the office of the provost at the University of Connecticut familiarized him with scientific research and the challenges that the sciences face, such as funding difficulties.
One audience member asked Shoulson how he would nurture the balance between the humanities and science, technology, engineering and math in a world where many undergraduates are leaning toward the sciences.
Shoulson replied by explaining the concept of “STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math.” He made it clear that he understands that the problem is more complex than that and discussed the idea of inquiry-based research, a practice he observed at the University of Connecticut that brought together several disciplines. Inquiry-based research reasons that with people with diverse perspectives working on a task, new ideas can be explored.
Additionally, Shoulson acknowledged that students are leaving the humanities to study subjects such as business, economics and the sciences. According to Shoulson, the arts do not promote their value enough. For instance, Shoulson believes that the ability to communicate and to think critically — one benefit of a humanities education — is more important for future employment than a student’s choice of major.
Shoulson also explained his plan for making new faculty feel included in Brandeis community, emphasizing its importance to his goal of incorporating more racially diverse faculty. After hiring, he said, the University must look at who was hired, who was in the pool of applicants, why the pool was not as broad and expansive as it could have been and why the particular candidate was hired in order to improve the hiring process moving forward and specifically to help create a racially diverse faculty.
Shoulson also emphasized the need for retention efforts to maintain a racially diverse faculty. He wants to engage in a systematic examination of the hiring process, adding that newly hired faculty need to be protected and not overburdened with additional tasks, such as having to serve on many committees, in addition to their teaching responsibilities. Shoulson also believes in bias training for search committees to understand structural biases such as gender bias.
When discussing increasing student diversity, Shoulson said he will look at the admissions and financial aid processes and work with faculty and the admissions center as a liaison to try to include identities not currently represented on campus.
Although Shoulson believes he will add a new perspective to Brandeis because he has never worked at the University, he admitted, “If I become dean, I would have a lot of learning to do.”
Speaking about interdisciplinary learning, Shoulson noted that while it is important for faculty to have department homes, interdisciplinary centers allow for meaningful intellectual discussion. However, Shoulson emphasized that supporting each department independently is important before departments can work together.
Shoulson believes in faculty governance, as the faculty plays a significant role in the University and needs to have a say in its functions. He also stressed the importance of transparency, arguing that faculty deserve to know why a decision was made even if they disagree with that decision.
Dorothy L. Hodgson
Dorothy L. Hodgson visited Brandeis last Tuesday to discuss her candidacy for the dean of arts and sciences. Hodgsons is currently a professor of anthropology and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Graduate Studies at Rutgers University.
Hodgson began by highlighting what attracted her to Brandeis, noting the University’s “unique arrangement of both emphasizing excellence in faculty scholarship to research, but also the focus on distinguished undergraduate education.” Having previously worked in large schools such as Rutgers, the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia, Hodgson also appreciates the smaller size and intimate nature of Brandeis.
As an anthropologist, Hodgson values knowing people on a personal level and said she wants to get to know the faculty and students beyond their titles and positions.
Hodgson emphasized her “commitment to social justice,” adding, “I have spent my career at a large public [university] with a large public mission of providing education, access and affordability.” Hodgson proudly noted that over 50 percent of Rutgers’ students are of color and many are first-generation students. Expressing her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusiveness, Hodgson addressed the importance of retaining faculty of color and battling racism at Brandeis. Hodgson said that while recruitment is essential, retention is even more important. Retention is achieved when a sense of community is built to avoid the feeling of isolation.
Discussing the modern concerns of free speech, Hodgson said debate and diverse perspectives are a good thing, but that there is also a fine line between opinion and hate speech. “We don’t all have to agree at all; in fact, we shouldn’t. The last thing I ever want is a kind of series of clones who all think the way I do,” she said. Hodgson referenced the town hall meeting prompted by the termination of men’s basketball coach Brian Meehan, saying that some comments made were troubling to many.
Hodgson said that if made dean, she will prioritize implementing the new general education curriculum of the University. She acknowledges the challenges of transitioning to a new general education system — especially at the beginning, when some students will still be following the old system.
Additionally, Hodgson aims to enhance the social experience of students at Brandeis. She said that alumni have “fierce pride in the academic experience at Brandeis, not so much the social experience and student experience.” Specifically, she emphasized the need to amend the Leader-Scholar Communities, which are heavily focused on academics and do not provide a holistic experience. Hodgson wants to see more social and co-curricular activities incorporated into these programs.
Overall, Hodgson wants to focus on inclusion, recruitment of faculty and students to the University and retention through building a sense of student and faculty belonging. She also hopes to improve the University’s financial state and garner faculty support.
When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of coming into this role from outside the Brandeis community, she replied, “A challenge is also an opportunity.” Hodgson mentioned that although she does not know all of the history of the University right now, she will bring a fresh set of eyes.
Hodgson expressed her support for interdisciplinary programs and education, highlighting interdisciplinary master’s programs that extend beyond a single subject or department. Master’s programs should not just be money-makers for the University, according to Hodgson. She wants these programs, especially four-plus-one-year programs, to be designed and implemented with thought and care in an effort to attract and retain high-caliber Brandeis students.
Hodgson also emphasized that a strong liberal arts college cannot exist without strong humanities and social sciences in addition to science, technology, engineering and math. Although she acknowledges that the national trend in the economy leads parents and students to want “practical majors,” she argues that diversity of majors benefits everyone. For Hodgson, this goal should be realized through interdisciplinary programs that connect sciences and humanities.
Editor’s note: Mihir Khanna ’18 is on the dean of arts and sciences search committee and is an editor of the Justice. He did not participate in reporting, writing or editing this article.