CLAS searches for new associate dean

Grand Valley State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has begun its search for a new associate dean of faculty resources and scheduling, and it has narrowed the applicants down to three finalists who will each address two prompt questions in a public presentation starting Dec. 9.

Mark Richards, professor and chair for the political science department, is part of the CLAS search committee. Richards said the associate dean position was open to “tenured faculty members in disciplines represented in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the rank of professor (desired) or associate professor (required).” Candidates should also have leadership and administration experience at the college or university level.

The current associate dean, Gary Stark, is a history professor at GVSU and has been working in academics full-time for 40 years. His position includes, among other things, the hiring of faculty and staff, as well as supporting recruitment of new students to the university. The associate dean also works with course scheduling and manages the budget for the spring and summer semesters.

The application process for the new associate dean, who will replace Stark when he retires after the 2014-2015 school year, required candidates to submit a resume, cover letter, leadership statement and three letters of recommendation. The 13-member search committee reviewed these materials and chose the three finalists: Charles Pazdernik, Edward Aboufadel and Gretchen Galbraith.

“We have three fantastic finalists,” Richards said. “Each of them has significant administrative experience as a department chair, as well as other university leadership experience.”

Pazdernik has been at GVSU since 2001. As a professor and chair for the department of classics, he said he has had experience with scheduling and staffing, and he has worked with the CLAS in the past.

“I have great respect for Associate Dean Gary Stark and for the job he’s done in his role since the creation of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 10 years ago,” Pazdernik said. “I think very highly of my fellow finalists and look forward to discussing the position with colleagues on the search committee.”

Aboufadel has been at GVSU since 1995. He is a professor in the department of mathematics and is also the interim chair for the department of biomedical sciences. Aboufadel said he thinks this position will be challenging, but it interests him.

“We want students to be successful,” he said. “We deserve highly effective academic administrators, and I strive to be that way.”

He said that if he obtains the position, he would focus on new student orientation to improve the retention rate. One of the ways he plans to do this is by improving GVSU’s summer program to make it more robust. He wants to provide more information about tuition, food options and things to do for fun so there is a greater incentive for students to come to GVSU during the summer.

Galbraith has worked at the university for 20 years as an associate professor of history. She said that she could fill the associate dean position because she has had administrative experience at GVSU and is familiar with faculty resources and scheduling.

“I enjoy the challenge of administrative tasks that enable me to support the excellent work of faculty and students at GV,” she said. “I believe strongly that the liberal arts and sciences are at the heart of GV’s mission and success.”

If chosen for the position, Galbraith said she will focus on “the state of high education in this nation” as well as within GVSU, using the CLAS to discuss the current trends and issues. She added that it is important to “get the staffing (and) budget equation right so that we can continue to support the good work of its faculty and students.”

In addition to the public presentations, the three candidates will go through a full day of interviews before the search committee, which will then make the final decision with the help of CLAS Dean Fred Antczak. Richards said the committee members hope to reach a decision by the end of the semester.

The presentation schedule begins with Pazdernik on Dec. 9. Aboufadel will present Dec. 11, and Galbraith presents Dec. 12. All three will start at 1:30 p.m. in Room 2215/2216 in the Kirkhof Center.

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