Dean of the College will step down ahead of tenure

by Eileen Brady | 3/27/18 2:00am

Dean of the College Rebecca Biron will step down from her position at the end of June to return to full-time teaching and research. At the end of this academic year, she will have served three years of her term as dean, which was originally scheduled to last four years. Biron attributed the decision to her “personal” desire to teach and do research, which she has not been able to do since fall 2015.

When Biron began her term as Dean of the College, her role entailed bridging academics and student affairs. She worked frequently with the newly-created vice provost for student affairs, who oversaw student life and other areas previously overseen by the Dean of the College. However, when the vice provost position was eliminated in January 2017, Biron assumed many of the role’s responsibilities. This left little time for teaching or personal academic pursuits, she said.

“[The decision to step down as Dean of the College] was an entirely personal decision,” Biron said. “When I took the job as Dean of the College in 2015, that was when we had the vice provost for student affairs, and I was supposed to be able to teach at least one course a year and have a little bit of time for research while I was also doing the Dean of the College work. Given the evolution of the job since then, it hasn’t been possible for me to teach every year.”

During her time as dean, Biron has participated in strategic planning for enrollment management, helped lead diversity and inclusion efforts, helped shape holistic advising for students, started developing a co-curriculum for leadership and helped launch the house communities program, among other responsibilities, she said.

Executive vice president Rick Mills, who recently discussed Dartmouth’s house communities with Biron at a town hall, praised her engagement with administrative colleagues.

“Dean Biron understood the role of staff and administrative support services and always took the time to engage with her colleagues on the administrative side,” he said. “Coming to the town hall and talking about the house system was a perfect example of how she is always engaged and did it with respect. I enjoyed working with her and found her bright and articulate, and I will miss her.”

Interim provost David Kotz ’86 will be responsible for finding Biron’s replacement once she officially steps down in June.

“I have been extremely impressed by her work and very grateful for everything she does, and her passion and commitment to the mission of the division of student affairs and to the many issues that relate to the success of students at Dartmouth,” he said.

Kotz added that the position will be filled by July 1 through a search committee comprised of faculty and staff. He said he plans to appoint an interim dean for “a year or two” before the position is filled permanently.

To fill the Dean of the College position, he said he looks for candidates who share Biron’s passion and commitment, in addition to having experience leading an organization at the College, such as having been a department chair or dean.

Biron, who was hired as a Spanish and comparative literature professor in 2006, will return to teaching in these disciplines in fall 2018.

Department of Spanish and Portuguese chair Silvia Spitta said in an email statement that she is happy to have Biron back in the department.

“[The department of Spanish and Portuguese] has been quite understaffed during the past few years and her expertise in contemporary Mexican culture has been a huge gap in our curriculum,” Spitta wrote. “That said, I am sorry to see her leave her position as Dean of the College since she has done such a superb job in that capacity.”

Biron said that her experience as Dean of the College has been “amazing,” and that she has been inspired by the dedication of student affairs staff to the experience of each individual Dartmouth student during her term.