It may be the start of the semester for students, but it’s also the first semester for two new deans on Gannon University’s campus.
The College of Engineering and Business, led by William L. Scheller, Ph.D., as well as the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, led by Steven A. Mauro, Ph.D., welcomed the two new leaders to their respective buildings in the summer.
After Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carolynn Masters, Ph.D., filled the position late last semester, there were two vacancies in the upper administration of academics. A full search was initiated, and numerous candidates applied for the positions. Masters had attended a retreat for provosts and presidents of small universities earlier in the year, and she explained how that helped guide her hiring decisions.
“Do you align well with us?” Masters asked. “If I’m going to hire someone, they have to be a good fit for the institution with the vision.”
Masters said university President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., is an “awesome visionary leader,” and we have a brand new strategic plan for the university.
“So, when I met with the candidates, I needed them to articulate how they were going to take those three goals (from the strategic plan) and move their college forward with that in mind,” Masters said. Masters explained that all candidates had initial conversations with the provost, as well as thorough interviews with the selection committees. Student input was taken into consideration, and many aspects of the campus community were taken into account.
“A dean has to be focused on academics and programs, but a dean is a critical part of a university and the university success,” Masters said.
Creating the right selection committee, was crucial in selecting candidates with the “right fit.”
Before coming to the College of Engineering and Business, Scheller served as the department head of industrial & manufacturing engineering at Kettering University, a school in Michigan he began working at in 1996. He earned both a doctorate and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering at the University of Nebraska.
Mauro, before becoming the dean of Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, served as the chair of the biology department at Mercyhurst University. One of the biggest questions Mauro is asking himself in his new role is, “How can we better prepare the students?” Mauro went on to say that he wanted to give faculy more opportunities to engage students in the classroom, in research, and other areas of growth.
“It’s probably true for every job, that you start in a new position,”Mauro said. “I didn’t know how to get things done or who do I contact to get this done? Who’s the person I should write this letter to?”
And while the corporate infrastructure was the most difficult aspect of becoming a dean, as Mauro indicated, he is excited to work with the “highly competent team” at Gannon University.
“They’re great, and they have great ideas,” he said. “I feel like I can help them turn those ideas into something tangible.
“That’s been great so far.”
Students who had the opportunity to provide input through the selection process shared some thoughts on the new academic leadership. Kelsey Wurst, a sophomore nursing major, said she was excited about the new deans. “I don’t know much about them, but I’m sure that Dr. Masters and the selection committee made a wise decision,” she said.
Ultimately, Masters plans to utilize this new collaborative team to make vast improvements to academics on campus.
Both Masters and Mauro were quick to mention Linda. Fleming Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. By increasing opportunities for students in its studies, Gannon can continue to excel when compared to its peer institutions.
“I’ve been in higher ed since 1986,” Masters said. “I’m very committed to wanting academic excellence; I’m very committed to being student centered; I believe strongly in a liberal arts foundation and a Catholic institution.”
“Why is a student going to want to come here? That’s what I want to answer.”