One Person at a Time

Wise words from a veteran to a ‘green’ Dean
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July 1, 2013: my first day as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Also the day that I reached out to Professor Emeritus Joe Stone, who held the post from 1996 to 2006. I asked what every novice dean should ask someone who has a decade of experience in the position: “What advice do you have for being dean of the college?”

Joe said, “Just remember, you manage the college one person at a time.”

I nodded my head and said something sage like, “Of course.” In truth—of course!—I had no clue how difficult this would be in a college with approximately 800 faculty, 1,000 graduate student employees, 200 staff, 11,000 majors and 109,000 alumni.

Even so, I try to honor Joe’s advice every day as I work to fulfill the university’s mission of research excellence and student success. At every step, I try to remember the individuality of my colleagues and students, and how—as much as I often wish it were the case—one size almost never fits all. Serving the remarkable diversity of people within this college is not just my greatest challenge, it is the greatest challenge of public higher education in America.

For me, this challenge resonates in a very personal way. As the father of five Ducks—four of them graduates and a fifth who is a senior, all of them in my college—I have watched with delight and dismay as my children navigated their journey in strikingly different ways. Each encountered different personal and academic obstacles and opportunities and each needed different resources. When I think of how varied my own children’s paths have been, I am daunted and humbled by the job before me now: reaching tens of thousands of students from all walks of life and giving each of them the individualized attention they need and deserve.

It is this desire to serve each student that leads to the vision for the Tykeson College and Careers Building. Please read more about the plans for this remarkable facility here. It is a trailhead for all students, a place where each will be able to chart a personal path through the liberal arts that enriches their intellectual lives and leads to careers.

Simply put, it is a building designed for student success.

Other public universities are similarly committed to their students; we will collaborate and learn from one another. But Oregon is the first to underscore its dedication to linking personal, academic and career success through the development of a multimillion-dollar structure designed entirely for those outcomes.

Tykeson Hall, the new home of the college, will realize our public mission of serving students from every walk of life. As a parent, I have learned that this individualized attention to students—to your children and mine—is both difficult and essential. This focus will be the vibrant heart of Tykeson Hall.

It is a place that will, I dearly hope, bring to life Joe Stone’s admonition to serve the college, one person at a time.

 

Andrew Marcus is Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences. He is a professor of geography and proud parent of four UO graduates and one current UO student, all in the arts and sciences.

Photo Credit: Kelly James