President James F. Jones announced this Thursday, January 24, that the committee conducting the search for the Dean of Faculty hopes to have a final appointment by the beginning of May of this year. The search committee is comprised of faculty members and other leaders at the college, including Garth Myers, a Raether Chair, Michael Lestz, Secretary of the Faculty, and Paul Mutone, Vice President for Finance and Operations. President Jones and Lestz are the appointed co- chairs of the search committee.
The Dean of the Faculty is the chief academic officer and second ranking officer at Trinity behind President Jones. Whoever holds this position must be dedicated to enriching the intellectual life of the campus. He or she is at the center of Trinity, supporting the faculty in their research and teaching endeavors and committing time to enhancing the College’s global and urban endeavors. The Dean of the Faculty is respoinsible for overseeing academic departments, the library, athletics, and study-abroad.
The current, and now leaving, Dean of the Faculty is Dr. Rena Fraden. Dr. Fraden is also Vice President for Academic Affairs and the G. Keith Funston Professor of English and American Studies. Dr. Fraden’s work focuses on cultural institutions, and her research includes a 1930s WPA arts project. She is the author of “Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women” and “Blueprints for a Black Federal Theater.” She is leaving Trinity to pursue a position as Dean of the College of the Pacific in California.
During her time at Trinity, Dr. Fraden actively searched for distinguished additions to the Trinity faculty and formed three new Centers on campus. Prior to Trinity, she was a faculty member in the Department of English at Pomona College for 23 years. She joined the Trinity community in 2006.
After the announcement of the Dean’s to move to the West Coast, President Jones appointed an interim Dean of the Faculty, Richard V. Prigodich. The President explained in an email to the campus on January 10 that Prigodich would temporarily replace Fraden as she plans to leave Trinity in March. President Jones stated in his email that, “this appointment will enable us to continue the critical duties of leadership and administration inherent in this key position.”
At this time, the College’s plan was to meet with the Faculty Conference before the start of second semester to begin the search for a permanent dean. However, a little over one week after this announcement, President Jones revised his earlier statement on January 21 to announce that, “it is in the College’s best interest not to mount a national search at this time for a permanent Dean of the Faculty.” This decision was made with help from the members of the Faculty Conference and with the Trustees.
The new plan is to begin a search for the Dean within those people already working and related to the school. He or she will possibly be hired on a renewable, three-year term beginning July 1, 2013 and ending on June 30, 2016. President Jones explained that this decision to hire a Dean for a short term is meant to coincide with the final two years of his presidency and the first year that his successor is in place at Trinity. This will allow for the interim Dean to spend time under both President Jones and his successor while the search for a permanent Dean of the Faculty is taking place.
Currently, there have been several nominations and recommendations given to President Jones about who should be appointed interim Dean. However, all nominations must be sent directly to the President and received by the end of the month. In his most recent email regarding the decanal search, President Jones stressed that because the search is from within those already at Trinity, opinions from people at the college are especially important.
The current search process will most likely include private interviews and scheduled meetings with department chairs, members of the dean’s staff, and senior administrators. With help from colleagues, faculty, and community feedback, the committee hopes to announce an appointment for the new Dean by May 1st at the latest.