Search narrows for new dean

Two candidates to choose from to replace Tom Harris, who is leaving after 11 years as dean of Applied Science

Dave Wilkinson is a candidate to replace Tom Harris.
Dave Wilkinson is a candidate to replace Tom Harris.
Credit: 
Supplied

The University has narrowed down its search to replace Faculty of Applied Science Dean Tom Harris
to two candidates, but will only reveal one of their names.

The selection committee, headed by Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane, will meet with the final two candidates over the next couple of weeks. One of these candidates is David Wilkinson, director of the McMaster University Centre for Automotive Materials and the McMaster Manufacturing Research
Institute. Wilkinson visited Queen’s on Tuesday.

“During my interview at Queen’s, I had discussions with very many people and everyone was very complimentary about the way that Dean Harris had led the faculty over the last 10 years,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson has worked to develop curriculum and major research projects, most recently related to automotive research.Wilkinson said he was reluctant to say very much about what he would plan to do as dean because no decision had been made regarding the position.

Deane said the University didn’t wish to release the name of the second candidate in the interests of maintaining that candidate’s privacy. “In these processes ... we balance the right of the individual
to be able to maintain some kind of privacy. It’s simply a courtesy to the person,” he said. “We like them to have the ability to contact all of the people they need to brief ... You don’t want Queen’s to make a public announcement and for it to come as a kind of revelation to those involved on the other side.”

To make a final decision, the selection committee will put forth a recommendation, but the ultimate decision will be reached by the Principal. EngSoc President Connor Langford is part of the selection committee, along with representatives from faculty and staff. “It’s been mind-blowing to figure out what traits we think are important in somebody,” hesaid. “We’re viewed as a faculty that is extremely unique. We’re lookingfor someone who considers all the roles into their broad vision.” Langford added that he considers it important to hiresomeone who is student friendly and who supports EngSoc.

Harris took his seat in the dean’s office in July 1996. “We’ve seen dramatic change in faculty … and lots of growth in research funding and significant department development,” he said. “We’ve also seen deregulation.Tuition has gone from $3,200 to $7,000, and I have mixed feelings about that. I think we have done a good job of putting on program development.“I’m far less certain that we have been able to do this while maintaining accessibility. But it’s not too late.”

Harris will be taking a two-year leave this June to focus on his research, adding that he plans to remain focused in his role as dean until the very last day. “The quality, enthusiasm and energy is incredible at Queen’s. I’ve really enjoyed my interaction with students,” he said.

Harris said he particularly enjoyed the opportunity to see Queen’s graduates succeed outside of the university bubble. “In the past six years, I’ve had 600 meetings with alumni,” he said.

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