Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

In Search of Our New Leader, the New College Dean

In Search of Our New Leader, the New College Dean

By Jaremy McMullin

Journalists and students sometimes share a susceptibility to the “spin” of others. However, the most courageous of both groups are not content to have issues and events defined for them. For a journalist, this often means digging deeper than a simple press release. For a student, this implies trusting in the intellectual talents that somehow tricked the Admissions Committee into sending out an acceptance letter.

The Hoya has shown an admirable interest lately in the academic affairs of the hilltop, with stories focusing on the Gateway Curriculum proposal or on the Medical Center grievance. I hope that the student editors will take advantage of their positions to educate their peers about the academic processes that create the very issues they report. It was therefore disappointing to read the story in the Nov. 10 issue that discussed Father Lawton’s recent appointment to the presidency of Loyola Marymount University in California. The announcement itself was great – a prestigious appointment indicative of the respect afforded to Georgetown College in general and to Father Lawton in particular. Still, readers deserve not just information on the departure of the current dean, but on the process of selection for the future dean of Georgetown College. Otherwise, the reporting at The Hoya suggests that some events (such as the departure of a dean) are somehow far-removed from the student domain. Failure to discuss the important task of finding a replacement for Father Lawton reinforces the dangerous divide between student input and administrative decision-making.

The resulting myth that lulls undergraduates into submission or pushes them further into the depths of cynicism’s deep end is the idea that students have no power over the top decisions made with respect to their education. The myth depends on perceived power differences in the university hierarchy and assumes a “man-behind-the-curtain” process that has perhaps gained popularity because of the re-release of The Wizard of Oz. Lucky for us, this is not the way it works as long as students inform each other about the process.

In mid-October, Universtiy President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. charged a committee, made up of eight members from the faculty community and myself, to conduct a national search for a new Georgetown College dean. He requested that the committee search for candidates who possess four qualities: academic leadership, administrative ability, appreciation for the tradition and character of Georgetown College and the ability to represent the college internally and externally. Although the committee has ultimate authority in conducting the search and in making final recommendations to Father O’Donovan, an integral part of any successful search is feedback from the larger Georgetown community. Such feedback articulates the meaning and importance of the four attributes listed above. To that end, the Search Committee is holding a number of constituent “town hall” meetings with the faculty, department chairs, and (most important to me) with the students. The student town hall meeting will be tonight at 8 p.m. in the ICC Auditorium.

It is important that Georgetown College students attend tonight’s meeting to frame for themselves and for the committee the challenges that Georgetown College is facing now and is likely to face in the future. The role of the dean of Georgetown College is important to the overall character and reputation of Georgetown University. Tonight’s event is an ideal setting for Hoyas to voice their opinions about the College and about the ways in which a dean should represent their interests. Student comments will not fall upon indifferent ears and will serve as a reminder that important university decisions must be reached through an open process. Confidentiality requires silence only with regard to the individual applicants for the dean’s position. The ideas that shape the Georgetown experience for students, faculty, and administrators alike become stronger when we provide the requisite open forum to inspire debate and to inform important academic choices.

Jaremey McMullin is a senior in the College.

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