MacLean named next dean of Arts & Science

Alistair MacLean is the incoming dean of Arts and Science.
Alistair MacLean is the incoming dean of Arts and Science.

After searching across the globe to find someone to fill outgoing Dean Robert Silverman’s shoes, the University has appointed someone from close to home as the next dean of Arts and Science.

Alistair MacLean, the current vice-dean of Arts and Science will begin his role as dean of the University’s largest faculty starting in July 2006.

An advisory committee that made the appointment, put together by Principal Karen Hitchcock, consisted of students, faculty and administrators including ASUS President Bradley Hammond, and committee chair Patrick Deane, vice principal (academic).

The committee started the year-long process by employing a headhunting firm. The position was heavily advertised internationally and according to Hammond, at one point there were 30 candidates for the position from across North America.

“We looked at the qualities [of the candidate], record of academic achievement, publishings, past involvement, interaction with students and how interactions have coloured their view of students,” Hammond said.

It’s important the new dean is student-friendly and views students as stakeholders in their education, he said.

“The recommendation of the search committee was very strong and very favoured towards MacLean,” Hammond said.

MacLean told the Journal he is ready to take on the challenges that accompany his new post.

“It’s the largest faculty in the University and it needs and contains a bunch of very talented and creative people,” MacLean said. “I think the challenge is to try to enhance and encourage those talents.” Prior to his post as vice-dean, MacLean held the post of associate dean of Arts and Science and head of the department of psychology from 1998-2002. MacLean earned both his master’s and PhD from Queen’s. His research is currently focused on sleep, including sleepiness and performance.

MacLean said his priorities will be to further the goals of the faculty. One specific goal is to enhance and integrate research and teaching.

“In terms of how we do that, one thing is to implement a curriculum review,” he said. “Another major immediate response is looking at the possibility of increasing graduate enrolment.”

MacLean said another big challenge is internationalizing the faculty. He said he will look at ways to increase the diversity of the University’s undergraduate population to better represent the diversity of the Canadian population.

In light of recent tuition announcements, Hammond said MacLean is going to have a very exciting time.

“It is the first time in 10 years that new money is being invested into the faculty,” he said. “Student to professor ratio will be down for the first time.”

Silverman, the current dean of Arts and Science, said one of the greatest challenges he faced during his ten-and-a-half-year term as dean was dealing with finances.

“The government was not giving us enough money to run the place, not allowing us to manipulate tuition and there was not enough revenue to cover costs,” Silverman said. “That was true for nine out of the ten-and-a-half-years.” MacLean said that the recent changes in the tuition cap are welcome, because it provides more resources to enhance the teaching environment and to provide support for students.

“Clearly, it’s not a move that’s popular with all students but it’s a reality of life in Canada that the cost of education isn’t born solely by one jurisdiction,” he said. “I think it’ll certainly help us improve the quality of things here.”

Hammond said that as the new dean, MacLean should listen to students and respect them as stakeholders. He said MacLean needs to make himself known and it’s important that the new dean has a large profile in his faculty.

MacLean said he plans to meet regularly with students and student leaders.

“The current dean has the practice of having regular lunchtime meetings with undergrads and I will continue that practice,” he said. “I intend to be available at student functions and I certainly encourage students to let me know their concerns so we can act on them.” Silverman said he thinks MacLean is a terrific choice for the position.

“This is a very interesting job and a very challenging job,” he said. “I wish him all the best in moving the faculty forward.”

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