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Saint Mary’s announces new Dean of Faculty

Kaitlyn Rabach | Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vickie Lynne Hess, a native of New York and previous academic dean of the American International College in Massachusetts, has been named Saint Mary’s new dean of faculty, the College announced in a press release Aug. 20.

According to the release, Hess received her bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry from Mount Holyoke College and then pursued a doctorate in chemistry at Indiana University.

“I am delighted that our search process brought us Dean Hess,” Senior Vice President and Provost Patricia Fleming said in a press release. “At this juncture in higher education, her prior experience as dean, as well as her background in science, will stand us in good stead. Increasingly more women are coming to us wishing to major in one of the sciences, math or nursing. Vickie understands the complexity of those curriculums. I am grateful to the faculty search committee for urging me to include her as a finalist in our search.”

Under the general supervision of Fleming, the dean of faculty oversees curriculum and personnel dealings for all of the current undergraduate departments, interdisciplinary programs and special programs, Hess said.

“Different programs around campus will be reporting to me,” Hess said. “I am really going to be looking at questions of faculty load. How much teaching are our faculty members expected to do, and what exactly does this teaching look like? Different disciplines have different ways of teaching, and I believe it is important to know and communicate these differences.”

Hess said library faculty, the College’s Writing Center, the Center for Academic Initiatives and the section of the Academic Affairs Office that deals with advising will also report to her.

With the College implementing a pilot honors program and a learning outcomes-based curriculum called the Sophia Program, Hess said she looks forward to working with the faculty to continue pushing forward College President Carol Mooney’s initiatives.

Hess said in recent years, the public has asked higher education institutions for more accountability. In response, Hess plans to work with faculty to create more academic assessments.

“The public wants to know what we are doing,” Hess said. “Academic assessments on departments and curriculum are faculty-led efforts, but someone needs to provide the structure to let it happen.”

As a product of a single-sex institution, President Mooney said Dean Hess knows what Saint Mary’s is about and will be a great asset to the community.

“Today, we are a pretty unique place,” Mooney said. “She has had similar experiences, so she appreciates what we are about here at Saint Mary’s.”

Hess said studying science at Mount Holyoke made her realize how important and necessary institutions are that aim to empower women.

“I remember being at the American Chemical Society national meeting with my adviser my senior year at Mount Holyoke, and there were times I looked around the room and I was the only woman and I didn’t even have a bachelor’s degree yet,” Hess said. “That is when I realized for the first time I was going into a ‘man’s field.'”

Because she studied at a liberal arts institution, Hess said she can easily connect with Saint Mary’s and will continue to promote the importance of teaching Saint Mary’s women not only what they can do, but what they can become.

“We are not just functions, we are human beings,” Hess said. “We have to prepare our students not for what is out there today, but for things they are going to have to learn down the road.”

Yesterday marked the first day of the academic calendar, and Hess said she is excited for the campus to continue to buzz with students.

“I am thrilled to be here,” Hess said. “I am excited about the warmth of the community. From the very first day, the community has reached out to me, and I feel very much at home.”

Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edu