ANDREW BEECHER AND MICHELLE QUINN/THE OBSERVER
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., and Interim Provost Jonathan Crystal announced the formation of a search committee to determine the next dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC).
Whoever is chosen will follow the 20-year tenure of Rev. Robert R. Grimes, S.J. Grimes announced his departure earlier this year, approximately one month after the end of the spring semester.
The search committee is comprised of 12 faculty members, professors and deans. The group is chaired by Anthony Davidson, dean of the Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Other members include Maura Mast, dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, Christina Greer, associate professor of political science, and David Swinarski, acting associate dean of the Arts and Sciences department. The group’s consultant, Kendra Dunbar, is Fordham’s assistant director for equity and inclusion.
As chair of the committee, Davidson’s primary responsibility is to coordinate the search. “Like a project manager, it’s making sure that different views and inputs are properly represented,” he said. “It’s important that everybody who is a stakeholder at Lincoln Center be able to contribute to what makes up a successful candidate.”
Davidson recognizes the difficulty of filling the shoes of a long-tenured and accomplished dean in Grimes. “Father Grimes has been in the position for many, many years,” he reflected. “He has grown the college at Lincoln Center tremendously and we are looking for a candidate who will possess the attributes that will continue the growth that he has implemented.”
To Davidson, one of the most difficult parts of the forthcoming process will be determining exactly what makes a good dean, as the responsibilities span many areas of administration. “The challenging part,” he believes, “will be developing a scope document and a job description that will ensure that we attract not only the best candidate but the right candidate.” He said there is not yet a shortlist of potential candidates and that narrowing them down will be no easy task.
The most important thing to Davidson, though, is that every member of the FCLC community has a say in who their new dean will be. To “make sure that the views, positions, and needs of all people and stakeholders are voiced” is crucial to the selection process.
During the committee’s brief first meeting, the Provost explained in general terms what the goals of the committee are. The committee’s job is to review incoming applications and then decide the top three finalists they believe are most fit for the position. The members of the committee must also meet with campus leaders in order to better understand the position itself and thus create an appropriate job advertisement.
The university will have the executive search firm, Witt/Kieffer, run its ads for the position. Witt/Kieffer is also the committee working on the Provost search and has conducted other searches for FCLC in the past as well. Advertisement will begin in December. The committee estimates that there will be 50-100 applications for them to review by February, which means the university community can expect a decision by the end of spring 2019.
As expressed by Swinarski, the new Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center must have a strong sense of leadership and be willing to fit into a larger, collaborative group of deans. “They need to understand FCLC’s spatial challenges”, he explains, “but also look at the opportunities the diverse and vibrant community at FCLC has to offer.” In other words, Swinarski believes it needs to be “someone who understands the magic of FCLC.”