CWG interviews director candidates

by Sam Rauschenfels | 5/23/11 10:00pm

Four candidates for the Center for Women and Gender director position recently traveled to the College to present their ideas on "best practices" for a variety of issues important to the Center for Women and Gender, according to an email sent from Mentors Against Violence co-director Leah Scrivener '11 and obtained by The Dartmouth. The search, which began in January, is focused on finding someone who can strengthen the relationship between the Center for Women and Gender and the women's and gender studies department, according to acting director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership Pam Misener.

Samantha Ivery, assistant dean of student life and advisor to black students, currently serves as the acting director of the Center for Women and Gender. Ivery, who announced her resignation in February, will leave the College in June, The Dartmouth previously reported.

Ivery declined to comment for this article.

The four candidates who visited the College between May 9 and May 18 do not represent the full pool of applicants being considered for the position, but instead are just the first group of candidates who may be asked to campus in the future, according to Misener.

The "very typical" search process for the permanent position began in January to coincide with the usual higher education hiring cycle, Misener said. Administrators reconnected with "pipelines" used to search for applicants and attend national student life conferences during the spring in an effort to find the best candidates, she said. Attendance at the conferences had not been possible for the past few years because of budget issues, according to Misener.

Search groups which included students from various on-campus organizations such as Mentors Against Violence were formed to discuss the qualities that applicants should possess, Misener said.

"Students feel pretty pleased with the process so far," she said.

Applicants with PhDs and experience working in women and gender centers on other college campuses will be preferred throughout the final selection process, according to Misener. It is important for applicants to have experience in both the academic and student life aspects of women and gender issues, she said.

"I think the conversation about how to best work together with the academic side is interesting," Brenda Bethman, one of the candidates invited to campus on May 18, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Bethman, who currently serves as the acting director for the women's and gender studies program and director of the Women's Center for the University of Missouri at Kansas City, said she was attracted to the position at Dartmouth by the reputation of the Center for Women and Gender and its ability to "work in the divide between student and academic affairs."

Jessica Jennrich, the director of undergraduate advising, curriculum and programming for the women's and gender studies department at the University of Missouri, Columbia, who was also invited to campus, said she was drawn to the position because she would like to work at an institution that values undergraduate education, and one small enough where implementing campus-wide changes would be possible. In her May 11 presentation, Jennrich spoke about her involvement with a successful campaign to protect gender identity and expression under the nondiscrimination policy at the University of Missouri, and the importance of not separating "academia and activism" in women and gender centers and programs.

"I cannot contain my enthusiasm with the people I have met on campus," Jennrich said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Rebecca Morrow, a candidate who visited campus on May 16 and serves as director of the Anderson Gender Resource Center at Idaho State University, said the position also appealed to her because of the reputation of the Center for Women and Gender.

"I think it's very well-regarded within the women's center community," Morrow said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

All three candidates emphasized that if selected for the position, they intend to conduct a thorough evaluation of the needs of the Center for Women and Gender rather than arrive at the College with a pre-determined plan for the Center for Women and Gender.

"Programs and goals have to be so tailored to the institution and to the culture of the institution," Bethman said.

Melanie Wilson, the director of student services for Mohave Community College in Arizona who visited the College on May 9, could not be reached for comment by press time.

With the 40th anniversary of co-education at the College fast approaching in 2012, Misener said having a director who is excited about planning for and being a part of the celebration would be beneficial.

"[There are] so many exciting opportunities that we're really looking forward to for a new director to bring to fruition," Misener said.

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