The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

The Search for Arts and Sciences Dean is Over

3 min read


Richard Finkelstein was announced as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences yesterday afternoon.

Despite earlier speculation that the unexpected departure of President Judy Hample would complicate the search, Claudia Emerson, chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean Search Committee, said “Provost Jay Harper has been in constant contact with the candidates the past week.”

In yesterday’s e-mail to faculty, Associate Provost John Morello said Finkelstein would be officially announced to the university next week.

Finkelstein currently is chair of the English department at the State University of New York at Geneseo. He has led the English department at SUNY-Geneseo for nine years, according to the biography the search committee sent to students and faculty.

Finkelstein could not be reached last night for comment.

A committee of eight faculty members and one student conducted the search this semester for a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The nine member committee is made up of a representative from each of the constituencies that the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will be in charge of, including a member of the student body,” Emerson said.

The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences serves as the chief academic officer for the College of Arts and Sciences.  Finkelstein will oversee all academic operations of the College in matters regarding the faculty, the curriculum, academic programs, and academic support, according to the UMW Web site.

The dean’s office also manages programs that support faculty development, promote undergraduate research activity, and aid faculty in submitting proposals for external grants, the Web site says.

The search began with the committee consulting the search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates to make sure the search was run “as efficiently as possible, and to help us attract quality candidates,” Emerson said.

The possible candidates sent their applications and were then required to fill out a questionnaire, including inquiries of the largest faculty, budget, and projects that they have been in charge of at previous academic institutions. Based on the answers given, the search committee then narrowed it down to a smaller group.

The search committee then interviewed an undisclosed number of candidates at an undisclosed airport hotel for two days.

“It was especially important that the search was confidential until the finalists were announced,” Emerson said. “We did not want to jeopardize anyone’s current employment.”

From that a smaller group, the committee selected four finalists.  The committee then made conference calls to previous employers and peers referencing the finalists. The reference process took place during the university’s snow days in early February.

The three other finalists, in addition to Finkelstein, were Olufunke A. Fontenot of Georgia College and State University, Allison Morrison-Shetlar of the University of Central Florida and John LaDuke of the University of North Dakota.

Each of the candidates visited UMW to interact with the students and faculty. They also conducted open forums in Dodd Auditorium as opportunities to allow the UMW community to ask questions about their plans if were are selected for the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.