The Collegian
Friday, November 27, 2020

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Final Richmond College dean candidates visit campus, meet students and faculty

The final three candidates for the vacant position of dean of Richmond College visited campus this week, meeting with students and faculty and getting a better feel for the environment in which one of them may be working.

"All of the meetings had a great turnout from faculty and staff," said Steve Bisese, vice president for student development and former RC dean. He said the student turnout was not as great but that it was understandable because the visits were during school days and many of the open meetings conflicted with classes.

Bisese said he did not have a strong inkling as to which candidate was most likely to be picked because he had not yet received student and faculty feedback about the visits, which just ended Tuesday. He said he would begin to receive feedback Friday.

"I want to pick the candidate that was clearly the one that I got the most feedback about saying that he would do the job well," Bisese said.

After evaluating the reactions and thoughts of students and faculty and then speaking with each candidate's references, Bisese said, he will be in a much better position to make his decision.

Michael Christakis, the assistant director of residential life at the University of Albany, was on campus last Thursday through Saturday. He followed a similar schedule of meetings and events that the first candidate, Joseph Boehman, had done a few days earlier. Friday afternoon, Christakis met with a small group of students to discuss various aspects of student life, answering questions the students had for the candidate while also asking some of his own. The topics discussed ranged from the uniqueness of the Richmond's coordinate student government system to Christakis' own professional adaptability.

"I like to think I can work with just about anybody," he said, speaking about the importance of student-faculty interaction and the value he sees in student-driven activities. "I'm a big believer in getting organizations and students to coordinate events because students seem to respond better to students."

Christakis also shared his thoughts on various student groups, such as Greek organizations, which he said have "a unique position to make a big difference on college campuses," and the honor council.

"There's a lot to be said about something like that that is student-driven," he said. The final candidate, Elton Crim Jr., visited campus for the first time Sunday night through Tuesday. He spent his time speaking with students and faculty and getting a better feel for the campus community. Crim is the interim dean of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also serves as director of student advocacy and judicial affairs. Crim did not return calls in time for publication.

Boehman, the assistant director for residential education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, visited campus last Sunday through Tuesday. Boehman was unavailable for comment, but students who attended his open forum last Monday seemed to be impressed with the candidate's demeanor.

"Boehman had a wonderful personality and seemed to be really comfortable with students," senior John Rosato said.

Joseph Kent, associate provost and chair of the dean search committee, said the candidates' visits went smoothly.

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"I think all three men got a good feel for the campus and the student body," Kent said. The visits were the final events set up by the search committee, he said, and the group now will wait along with the rest of the university to find out who Bisese selects as his successor.

Rosato also attended the open forum for students with Christakis. He said that although both Boehman and Christakis had personalities that made them well-suited for the position, he thought Christakis had more experience with academic affairs and was a better choice.

"[Christakis] blended approachability with a lot of practical experience," he said.

The three finalists were selected from an original group of 30 applicants. A search committee consisting of faculty, students and alumni picked the finalists. Bisese said he planned to make the final decision by mid-February.

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