After three months of interviewing and deciding, a new dean for the School of Natural and Social Sciences has officially been appointed as of March 20, 2013.
Marcel Kerr, professor of psychology, who was serving as interim dean for the School of Natural and Social Sciences has been officially chosen the serve as the dean.
Steven Daniell, Dean of Arts and Letters and dean representative of the committee that chose Kerr, said the committee was looking for a candidate with experience and communication skills.
“We were also looking for somebody who had a good grasp of something like budgets and data analysis, maybe not to the degree that Dr. Kerr is able to do it,” Daniell said, “But somebody who can actually receive some data and then be able to understand it, and then convey that meaning to the faculty or the administration.”
Daniell said aside from the experience Kerr has from being interim dean, she is organized, understands the issues facing higher education.
“She’s also a straight shooter as far as if there’s information that needs to be conveyed, or she needs to be seeking out information to make decisions,” Daniell said.
Timothy Grammer, assistant professor of history and chairman of the committee, said Kerr was the obvious choice due to her background in teaching, administration, and scholarship. Grammer said the committee was looking for someone who could communicate with both the faculty and the administration.
Grammer said, “Deans are kind of like a sandwich position. They’re dealing with faculty below but administrative above.”
Grammer said after three months of shuffling through applications, the committee narrowed their search down to three candidates they wanted to talk to on campus. Grammer said Kerr was clear in her vision for the future, and Kerr was the clear choice for the position.
“She was clearly a superior candidate regardless of what university she may have applied,” Grammer said. “Clearly someone who would have been in the running at virtually any university.”
Kerr said she started teaching at Texas Wesleyan as an assistant professor of psychology in 2000.
“I’ve had the unique opportunity to serve an interim or acting dean twice,” Kerr said. “So four years ago I was able to serve this school [Natural and Social Sciences] plus the other half which is over in arts and letters.”
Kerr said while serving as interim dean she realized she liked the job. Kerr said the job requires a detailed, organized, and energetic person who can also listen and solve problems.
“You also have to be able to see the big picture,” Kerr said. “So every decision you make, how it effects everybody, the whole institution, not just individual students or individual programs.”
Kerr said as dean she removes barriers from the faculty so they can focus on teaching and mentoring their students. Kerr said she is very passionate about Wesleyan’s mission.
“I know exactly what we’re doing and want to be true to that mission for our students and for our faculty,” Kerr said. “I want to preserve and protect the right to do what they need to do in the classroom.”
Kerr said now that she has been chosen as dean she will get back to work. She said she is trying to get the alumni more involved and continue to encourage students to become involved in the opportunities that will benefit them.
“Basically I want us to continue what we already do, which I consider our niche in natural and social sciences, and not just our niche in the university, but our niche in the community,” Kerr said.