Cara Munn ’15
In a campus-wide announcement by President James F. Jones Jr., Dr. Thomas Mitzel has been unanimously selected to be the next Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Mitzel, who served Trinity until July 2011 as Associate Academic Dean after serving 15 years in Trinity’s chemistry department, is currently Dean of the School of Natural Science at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Thomas Mitzel teaches because “The guidance, wisdom, support and friendship I received from my teachers have all been invaluable. I cannot think of a better way to spend my life than doing for others what these wonderful folks have done for me. As one of my mentors once suggested to me, the quest for knowledge is a never-ending endeavor.
“If I can instill that idea within my students — and persuade them to “own” their learning process — it will be more important than any particular topic I may discuss with them. We should not just teach students, but inspire them to always wish to learn, and carry that desire with them for the rest of their lives.” It is not hard to see why so many of the faculty chose him to be their frontrunner for the job.
The Princeton Review and the U.S. News and World Report named St. Edward’s University one of the best Catholic Colleges in the United States. Located in Austin, Texas, it offers a liberal arts education and boasts notable alumni such as the daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson Luci Baines Johnson, who graduated in 1997 at the age of 50. Within the several days following President Jones’ saddening announcement that Dean Fraden was departing from Trinity, many members of the faculty reached out to President Jones with the suggestion of Dr. Thomas Mitzel as a candidate. This movement by the faculty points strongly toward his high esteem in the view of the faculty. The search committee was made up of Professors Joseph Byrn, Kathleen Curran, Leslie Desmangles, Michael Lestz, Joan Morrison, Garth Myers, and Trinity CFO Paul Mutone. Professor Lestz and President Jones co-chaired the search. With more than twenty faculty members nominated, the selection process proved to be an extremely tough one. It included the review of CVs and letters of interest, written statements, and interviews.
Three academic members of the Board of Trustees (Dr. Philip Khoury ’71, Dr. Kevin Maloney ’70, and Dr. William Richardson ’62) interviewed the three semifinalists but were not permitted to cast votes. The faculty search committee’s final votes were cast in the form of secret ballots which were then tallied and reported to President Jones by the search committee. The search committee’s opinion was formed independently and the search committee only consulted the advice of the gracious board members after the vote.
Rich Prigodich has served as the interim Dean of Faculty since January of this year, and Mr. Prigodich will continue to serve as interim Dean until June 30, 2013. Dr. Mitzel will begin serving as Dean on July 1, 2013 and he will continue to serve in this role until June 30, 2016.
President Jones’ successor will thus have a year to decide on a more lasting Deanship here at our College. Dr. Mitzel will come to campus in the late spring to meet with chairs of departments and programs and various other members of the faculty and staff.