By Jessica Parral
The Arts Division of UC Santa Cruz held a town hall meeting for faculty and staff last Thursday to address questions concerning the appointment of a new Dean of Arts.
The search for a dean is in its second year, following the retirement of Edward Houghton last July. Margaret Morse, a film and digital media professor, holds the position temporarily.
Norman Locks, the chair of the search committee, said that about 30 to 35 applications had been received, although David Kliger, executive vice chancellor, said that there are no official candidates
“We had a retirement from someone who’d been dean for 19 years, so that gave a chance to replace the office to find the appropriate person,” said Linda Burman-Hall, music professor and committee member. “For some reason, there was a failure to recommend candidates, and nobody was appointed, because [the committee] didn’t feel like it found the appropriate candidate yet.”
Burman-Hall continued, “Having a sense that there’s a good pilot at the head of your division is important to the faculty, the staff, and the students, whether they’re undergrads or graduates. That’s the way your resources will be allocated.”
Approximately 20 members of the faculty and staff attended the town hall meeting. While the search for the dean was the primary issue at hand, other issues surfaced, such as the future of the arts division.
Vice Chancellor Kliger spoke to the group on behalf of the committee.
He addressed the role of budget cuts in the search, saying that while the salary of the future dean would remain unaffected, other impacts will affect the division.
“I can’t make promises about which programs are going to grow,” Kliger said. “There’s already a lot of private funding that comes to the campus, [but] either we let our programs deteriorate over time or we seek private funding.”
While budgetary woes were high on the list of concerns, attendees also suggested looking for a candidate from an underrepresented group.
Many at the meeting also hoped the next dean would raise the profile of the arts division through community outreach and innovative programs.
“We want someone who will support the arts, but we also want someone who will work with the other deans and ultimately do what’s best for the campus as a whole,” Kliger said.
Kliger supports the arts department continuing to branch out, citing the collaboration between arts and engineering that created the digital arts and new media department, as well as the recently-created major in computer game design.
“We’re really encouraging the deans to work to create new programs, more interdisciplinary programs,” Kliger said. “A dean has to be a leader and encourage faculty to be the best they can be, but not say, ‘This is how you’re going to do it.’”
One faculty member recommended that the new dean have “an almost nurturing quality.”
However, according to David Jones, provost of Porter College: “You can only nurture if you have resources.”