With the beginning of the new year and the new semester, Gannon University prepares to bid one of its own goodbye.
Melanie Hatch, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Business, prepares to assume to her new post as the chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State University’s DuBois campus.
Before starting her career at Gannon in July 2008, Hatch served as the dean of business at Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“I have learned so many things at Gannon,” Hatch said. “I have been involved in so many more things at the institutional level, strategic planning and the budget process.
“I have learned a lot more about how the whole university works, even beyond my own college.”
In addition to her administrative duties, Hatch has also taught courses including quantitative methods for the college of Engineering and Business and quality management for the organizational learning and leadership program in the summer of 2009.
Steve Frezza, Ph.D., professor of software engineering said Hatch played a significant role in putting the business program together and had brought in many strong faculty members to the college.
“I am really thankful that she was here,” Frezza said. “She really does bridge engineering and business.”
Frezza and Hatch were part of a steering committee working to bring the Engineering and Educators Conference to Erie in 2016 in collaboration with Penn State Behrend.
Frezza said he hoped the next dean would not only continue to integrate business and engineering but also to market the two disciplines.
“Engineering and business have been working together for years at Gannon,” Frezza said. “Both at the student level and the faculty-grants level as well.”
However, Frezza said there was still room for improvement.
“I would really be thankful to see the new dean take the start that Melanie has done and say ‘how do we make this more distinguishable and real for the students and the community?’”
According to Andrew Novobilski, Ph.D., vice president and provost of academic affairs, Carolynn Masters, Ph.D., dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, will serve as interim dean of the College of Engineering and Business until a suitable replacement is found.
Novobilski said the new dean, who will be appointed by July, 1, will be chosen based on his or her ability to help the students and move the college from where it is now to where it could be.
“We want a leader,” Novobilski said. “We want someone that is able to come in and have a sense of what consesnsus is and how that matches the needs of Gannon; most importantly from the perspective of the students.”
The new dean, Novobilski said, is expected to be able to work with internal constituencies like the staff and the students on one hand, and external constituencies like employers and the economic development in Erie on the other hand.
“We are really asking for a lot,” Novobilski said. “But having the engineering and the business programs collocated in the same place is quite an opportunity for Gannon, and quite an opportunity for someone to come in and help lead into the future.”
Novobilski also met with the faculty of the College of Business and Engineering Tuesday to discuss their expectations for the new dean.
Hatch said her greatest memory at Gannon was collaborating with the faculty for the first time when she assumed her position to develop the College of Engineering and Business.
“We ran through a process called ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ where we talked about all the things everybody enjoyed working at Gannon and what our strategic advantages were,” Hatch said. “That led us to building our vision and mission statement for the college.
“It was a great way for me to get to know the faculty and overall I think it was a really good process so I really enjoyed that.”
As chancellor, Hatch will be responsible for running day-to-day campus issues from enrollment, athletics, to academics.
“One of my first priorities will be to look at their enrollment trend and the possibility to start new programs,” Hatch said.
Hatch had recently co-authored a research paper about servant leadership in the superintendents in Pennsylvania as part of a dissertation she supervised with one of her doctoral students.
Novobilski said Hatch’s work in the university was impressive as the inaugural dean.
“To take something from nothing is pretty impressive,” Novobilski said. “And one thing we know in business is that leaders vary in their capacity to move organizations; and it’s not good or bad – it just is.
“Dr. Hatch was a great start-up dean — now we need a transitional dean to take the college from its foundation to its next step.”