Committee search continues for new Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences

Many administrative changes have happened over the last few years at Point Park

Written By Erin Yudt, For The Globe

With many students adjusting to in-person classes this year, they have also been introduced to a fairly new and restructured administrative body, with even more changes on the way.

The School of Arts and Sciences has recently begun its search for a new dean amid a cascade of other changes to administrative positions throughout the university over the last year. This semester, students were greeted with a new university president, Don Green, and a new Provost, Michael Soto. Additionally, there have been three new deans within the last two years.

Newly Appointed Administrative Body & Hire Dates:
• Dean of the School of Communication (Bernie Ankney) – June 2020
• Founding Dean of the School of Education (Darlene Marnich) – January 2021
• Provost (Michael Soto) – June 2021
• Chair of Dance Department (Colleen Hooper) – August 2021
• President (Don Green) – August 2021
• Chair of Cinema Arts (Andrew Halasz) – mid August 2021
• Dean and Artistic Director of COPA (Garfield Lemonius) – mid September 2021
• Office of Equity and Inclusion – begun operation in the 2021 Fall Semester

Bernie Ankney, Dean of the School of Communication, is the chair of the committee for this search for a new dean for the School of Arts and Sciences. The first priority deadline for the position was October 15.

Ankney said he is “very impressed” by some of the candidates and “hopes to narrow down the search in early November and have them come to the university by the end of the semester.”

This shift to a more dean-focused structure replaces one that has given more authority to department chairs. Steve Tanzilli, the current Dean of the Rowland School of Business, has served as a dean at the university for the longest amount of time, four years, according to Point Park’s website. This new Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences will be added to the list of newly appointed administrative body.

“A few months ago, our new Provost Michael Soto announced that he was going to restructure the provost office and the administrative structure,” and that the reason for these administrative changes is because “all of our peer institutions have a dean structure, the universities we really aspire to be.”

The search for the Dean for the Schools of Arts and Sciences is one of several that have been conducted over the last year, including for the presidency and university provost amid internal staffing changes.

Julianna Glaser, senior dance major, said she has seen numerous changes, including within the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA).

“There have been a number of great improvements since I first started at this school,” she said. “Garfield Lemonius has done such a great job as Dance Department Chair, and I know he will do so as Dean of COPA. Colleen Hooper, our new Dance Department Chair, is already working to do the same. She and I have interacted on a variety of subjects, so I know she will continue the excellent leadership and improve on an already great dance program.”

Dennis McDermott, the Student Government Association (SGA) president, participated in the interview committees for both the provost and president.

“The provost had a planned retirement date years in advance,” McDermott said. The reasoning behind the replacement of the provost and president “were not really [due to] COVID.”

Current Provost Michael Soto applied for the position in August of 2020, when Point Park conducted a national search to fill the vacancy. Soto officially took this role in June of this year.

“The pandemic has been challenging across the higher education landscape. I went from a difficult environment in Texas to another difficult environment here; folks are understandably exhausted,” he said. “But I believe in what we do at Point Park, so it’s not hard to face the challenge head on. I have terrific colleagues and Point Park students are an endless source of inspiration.” He added that “this is a great moment to be a Point Park student,” as “everyone here is committed to serving students well.”

“We’re not out of the COVID-19 woods yet, so it’s impossible to plan for the future with great certainty,” Soto said. “ But we’re consulting with health experts constantly and following the science. Fortunately, most of the Point Park community is working hard to keep each other safe.”

Provost: The Provost is the chief academic officer of the University and has responsibility for the University’s academic and budgetary affairs. The Provost collaborates with the President in setting overall academic priorities for the University and allocates funds to carry these priorities forward.
President: The President’s primary responsibility is to provide vision for the College and continuous leadership and direction for the planning and operation of all aspects of the College’s programs and services in conformity with Board policies, ICCB and IBHE rules and regulations, and State law.
Dean: Deans are responsible for managing faculty and academic programs. They need to know how to architect programs that will provide maximum value to students. The best deans understand how to motivate their staff and create an environment that allows them to do their best work.
Chair: The department chair provides instructional leadership and enhances articulation regarding curriculum alignment with standards. … The duties of the department chair are critical to the overall educational program and require effective and ongoing communication and collaboration with staff and administration.