Vision Statement — Elizabeth A. Wells

Elizabeth WellsThe job of an Acting or Interim Dean of Arts is hard. It is difficult because one wants to forge ahead with new ideas and make positive changes. At the same time, one does not want to saddle an administrator coming after with initiatives that he or she does not want to or cannot continue.

Right now in the Faculty of Arts, an important visioning exercise is taking place. Led by faculty, people have been asked what qualities they seek in a new Dean. Through a collegial and consultative process, faculty and Arts Heads are holding meetings to brainstorm directions, vision, and values amongst the faculty members to chart a new direction.

Although Deans are meant to be the people who bring a vision statement to a unit, it is important for the people in that unit to self-define, to assess their own strengths and weaknesses, to come up with new ideas, and to dream. I feel my role as a one-year Acting Dean is to help to shepherd this process through to completion, to facilitate when needed, to step back when needed, as well.

Although one year is not enough time to come up with elaborate or long-term plans, a lot can still be accomplished. We can take a hard look at where we are and where we would like to be. We can imagine what we can do and how we can be creative in an increasingly tight fiscal situation. We can explore interdisciplinary or inter-university collaborations in research and teaching, we can look at policies or procedures that could be improved or implemented, and we can set the stage for the next Dean to take us into the future.

Being able to articulate our own wants and needs is an important part of a regeneration and renewal in the Arts in a time when admittedly arts and humanities are under scrutiny in all areas of post-secondary education.

I see the role of the Dean in this period as one of facilitation, consultation, and mobilization of talent and ideas to create a new vision for the Arts that can be presented to a new Dean as the well-thought-out and crafted perspective on where we are and where we want to go.

My experience with holding targeted retreats in my own Department over the years allowed us to move together into a new era of growth and success, and I hope I can bring those same skills of listening, organizing, and communication to help the Arts faculty to rise to our next level of achievement.

At the end of the year, I trust that a collegial, transparent, and due process is followed to select a new Dean who will meet the needs and desires of the faculty and students of the unit and have the skills and attributes to chart a positive course for the future.

More about Elizabeth A. Wells

Dean of Arts Elizabeth Wells hosts a student panel discussion about student work-life balance on Oct. 18, 2016.