New interim Dean of College appointed

by Julian Nathan | 6/29/18 2:50am

On June 14, the College announced that South House professor and sociology department chair Kathryn Lively will serve as interim Dean of the College beginning July 1. She replaces current Dean of the College Rebecca Biron, who announced that she would step down from her position and return to teaching and researching in March. Lively will hold the position for one year until the College finds a permanent candidate.

Lively was appointed following the recommendation of a five-person search committee comprised of mathematics professors Carolyn Gordon and Craig Sutton, computer science professor Thomas Cormen, chief of staff for the Office of the President Laura Hercod and director of financial aid Gordon Koff. Administrators have not yet decided how the search process for the permanent position will move forward, according to an email statement from College spokesperson Diana Lawrence.

The Dean of the College is responsible for managing undergraduate academic and co-curricular life. Gordon said that the committee sought a candidate who could surmount the position’s steep learning curve, develop the office’s current initiatives, such as the House system, and engage successfully with faculty, staff, campus partners, students and their families.

Lively said she initially believed that she would be a “problematic candidate” for the position when she learned that she had been nominated because she was committed to remaining a House professor. However, upon receiving an email notifying her that she was selected for the position following the interview process, she said enthusiastically accepted.

“I felt compelled to accept [the position]…which is an honor­­, a great honor,” Lively said.

Reflecting on the selection process, Lively said that she now believes that her experience as a House professor was an asset.

Lively began preparing for her new role by trying to get a sense of what her aspirations and management protocols would look like.

“I had a lot of conversations with my husband about leadership style and [pinning down] just what my goals are,” she said.

Lively added that she intends to meet with Biron next month as part of her formal onboarding process to discuss exactly what the job entails. Biron said that the two will discuss how to oversee the division of student affairs and maintain momentum on current projects.

Lively is most excited to work with staff in the division of student affairs and emphasize academic achievement and enhancement. She also looks forward to developing a deeper understanding of the College, she added.

“At every layer of the institution, you see more of it and develop a broader understanding of what’s going on and how things are interrelated,” she said.

Lively explained that her background as a sociologist would make gaining institutional knowledge about the College especially intriguing for her.

“[As someone who’s interested in] interpersonal interaction and organizations, I think this is going to be a fascinating experience that will give me a deeper understanding and appreciation of and for the people who comprise this institution,” she said.

Lively also said that she is looking forward to working at the College during 2019 because her tenure will coincide with “The Call to Lead” capital campaign and the College’s sestercentennial.

“I think that I think this is a very exciting year for Dartmouth,” she said.

However, Lively noted that her adjustment to her new position will not come without challenges.

“As a faculty member, I’ve always had complete control over my time … I think for me, [the challenge will be] not being in control of my agenda or where my focus is on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

However, despite these obstacles, Gordon expressed confidence in Lively’s ability to engage with students, faculty and staff.

“[Professor Lively] has a very, very good way of connecting with people … she has a way of making people feel comfortable,” Gordon said.

Biron noted that actively listening to students, staff and faculty is a critical component of the Dean of the College position.

“I’m really happy that Professor Lively is taking on the role of supporting [the division of student affairs] in their work,” she said.