Cal Lutheran to Select New Dean

California Lutheran University is hiring a new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes the university’s creative arts, social science, humanities and science programs.

The current dean, Joan Griffin, said she has served in the position for 10 years, and is stepping down to become a full-time English professor because she loves teaching.

“It’s going to be a nice transition, I think, to end my career the way I began,” said Griffin, who was an English professor at Oxford College in Minneapolis before becoming a dean at Cal Lutheran.

The search committee for an individual to replace Griffin has narrowed the applicants down to three candidates since the open position was announced in September, said Veronica Guerrero, chair of the committee.

The final candidates are comprised of two department chairs and one dean from Spellman University in Atlanta, Loyola University in New Orleans and Pace University in New York, said Guerrero and Leanne Neilson, Cal Lutheran’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“They’ve all been faculty members for many years at other universities, which is the normal route to become a dean,” Neilson said.

Guerrero said the university is looking for someone who is good with students, works well with faculty and who practices good communication, along with different traits listed in the job description written over the summer.

The three candidates have each given presentations to students and faculty in which they were asked to discuss, from a dean’s perspective, issues they see at the university. The presentation dates were announced in an email to the student body from the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Melinda Roper.

Before the presentations, evaluation forms were distributed to the audience of students and faculty requesting feedback on the individuals’ leadership, management skills and other qualities for consideration by the search committee.

Beyond being invited to the presentations, Neilson said students have been interacting with the candidates in different ways, such as giving them tours around campus and having lunch with them.

Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life Scott Silverman, who also serves as a faculty representative on the search committee, said, “The question I always think about is how will the person who eventually gets this position work for the students, and work to support the initiatives outside the classroom.”

Guerrero said the four different divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences have also had the chance to individually meet with the candidates and discuss issues pertaining to those areas.

“It’s important that we find somebody who checks off as many boxes as possible for everybody,” Silverman said.

The position profile says leadership opportunities for the incoming dean to consider include: Cal Lutheran’s transition into a Hispanic Serving Institution, the revision of Core 21, and curricular and administrative organization.

Discussing the developments she witnessed over her time as the dean, such as the diversification of the student body, Griffin said, “I think it’s really interesting that the growth has been in the sciences, and communications and psychology.”

Neilson said with the new dean there will be an emphasis on the sciences and mentoring students to succeed in this area.

Another focus, Silverman said, will be “on the service of our underserved populations.” He also said the new dean will likely need to “get acclimated and see where he or she wants to make some changes.”

Neilson said over 100 applications were received for the position, which were narrowed down by the search committee reading through applications, conducting reference calls and holding confidential, off-campus interviews.

Silverman said the committee can make recommendations, and Neilson gets to make the final decision, which she said she hopes to have finalized by the end of February.

“We’re thrilled with all three candidates. It’s going to be a hard decision,” Neilson said.

The selected dean will begin his or her work in the summer, and Griffin will step down to teach English 111, Classical Literature, Early English Literature Survey and Introduction to Literature in the fall.

By Dakota Allen
Staff Writer