University selects three finalists to replace Marvin Kaiser

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a step closer to finding a dean to replace Marvin Kaiser after the final candidates wrapped up their campus visits on Wednesday.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a step closer to finding a dean to replace Marvin Kaiser after the final candidates wrapped up their campus visits on Wednesday. Three finalists were chosen out of a wide field in order to find a candidate that is the best fit for Portland State.

Over the past two weeks, Alan Burns, Susan Beatty and Philip Cohen all visited PSU and delivered hour-long presentations to students and faculty.

Isaacson Miller, the independent search firm for the university, administered feedback surveys for students and faculty, a process that Larry Wallack, dean of College and Public Affairs and the search committee chair, said would be reviewed over the next few days.

Wallack believes that the new dean will be on board in fall 2011.

“We were looking for someone with great intellectual breadth that could develop a vision that included the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences,” Wallack said.

According to Wallack, the three finalists stood out because of their experience and accomplishments. In addition, he said the final candidate must understand “the special nature” of CLAS and be able to communicate what they would “contribute to the further growth and development of the college.”

The candidates all have unique backgrounds and geography.

Burns is coming from the University of Florida, where he was the chair of the Department of Anthropology. He also holds an endowed professorship in Florida’s CLAS.

According to Burns, while he was chair, the department’s grants and contracts more than doubled.

“I have enjoyed working with and have promoted the administrative teams, committees and working groups throughout my career to be socially and internationally diverse, from disparate departments and intellectual traditions,” Burns said.

If hired, Burns said he will work to strengthen “PSU’s international connections, increase the research footprint of the faculty and help develop gift-giving and other resources.” 

Beatty, the only female candidate, hails from the University of Colorado’s College of Arts and Sciences, where she has been the associate dean of the department’s natural science division for four years. In this role, Beatty oversees 13 departments, 368 tenure-track faculty, 125 staff members and 1,200 graduate students.

Beatty believes the most important aspect of leadership is transparency.

“I strongly believe in a transparent and collaborative leadership style,” she said. “Through some very difficult budget cuts in the past four years, I had the cooperation and support of all my departmental chairs in choosing how we were going to meet our budget goals. 

Cohen is currently the vice provost for Academic Affairs and the dean of the Graduate School at the University of Texas, Arlington. In his cover letter to the CLAS search committee, he said that he has advanced the university’s strategic goals in education, managed the graduate programs and enrollment and raised funds for graduate student support.

“I am committed to helping students succeed academically…I work well with a wide variety of academic cultures, and…I understand the role of faculty and am committed to providing the support and infrastructure that enables them to fulfill that role,” he said.

Cohen also served as UTA’s associate dean of the Graduate School and chair of the English department. ?