K-State has been conducting a search for the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and on Monday afternoon Dan Hoyt, chair of sociology at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and the second candidate out of three, spoke to an audience of professors and department heads.
Dean Virginia Moxley, of the College of Human Ecology, and chair of the search committee for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, introduced Hoyt’s presentation, “The Role of a Dean of a College of Arts and Sciences in a Land Grant University,” an area chosen by the committee.
“We have asked him to talk on a scintillating topic,” Moxley said. “Once again we will see what the candidate manages to do.”
Hoyt started out his lecture with a frank comment on his presentation.
“When thinking about this talk and how to make it interesting, I failed,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt started by informing the audience about himself. Hoyt spent 21 years at Iowa State University, and 10 years at Nebraska as a professor and chair for the sociology department. The speech included characteristics the new dean would need, as well as values and motivations.
“I have spent many of my years in the faculty being suspicious of the motivations of my dean,” Hoyt said.
The biggest success Hoyt said he had at Nebraska was organizing a disorganized faculty as sociology chair.
Accessibility, effective communication, leadership and personnel management skills, were some of the other characteristics Hoyt said were necessary to be dean. He said faculty should be comfortable when talking with the dean, and the dean needed to be effective with fundraising or strategic planning.
“I used to hate those words, but maybe I’ve been corrupted by my time as a chair,” Hoyt said.
At Nebraska, Hoyt said his faculty started utilizing three and five year plans, and he said it helped the different departments become excellent by focusing on specific concentrations of their subject.
The candidate also emphasized diversity, and said a dean should encourage diverse programs and people.
“I am a major advocate of diversity, and it should be a key value of education,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt also said interdisciplinary research and scholarship would be important, and the collaborations could get a lot of grant money
After defining the College of Arts and Sciences as the “core of a major public university,” Hoyt defended liberal arts degrees against a perceived threat of irrelevance, and he said the university is going to have to be efficient to succeed.
“We’re going to have to do it in the context of diminished resources,” Hoyt said. “We’re also seeing the states take much more ownership in the affairs of the universities. Not only are we taking budget cuts, but in the political view we are being micro-managed by legislators.”
Pay freezes and furloughs were some of the problems professors are living with, and Hoyt said even though pay freezes are unpopular, the situation could be worse.
Overall, Hoyt said professors need to be better at branding themselves as hardworking.
“We aren’t good at telling people what we do, we’ve been comfortable and don’t care if the person down the street thinks we’re good at what we do,” Hoyt said. “We need to get rid of the image of the professor who works 30 hours a week. I’ve never met that professor.”
Hoyt said if he became dean, he would ask the department heads what they do well, and he also said the College of Arts and Sciences should be more consistent with the message on its website.