Canisius enters final stage of search for new Dean of Arts and Sciences

By CJ Gates

The four candidates for the position of Dean of Arts and Sciences from top left to bottom right: Dr. Harry Dammer, Dr. David Darrow, Dr. Elizabeth Gill and Dr. Patricia Erickson

The four candidates for the position of Dean of Arts and Sciences from top left to bottom right: Dr. Harry Dammer, Dr. David Darrow, Dr. Elizabeth Gill and Dr. Patricia Erickson

Just as the fall semester is winding down, so too is the College’s search for a new Dean of Arts and Sciences.

Over the summer a search committee comprised of ten members, led by co-chairs Dr. Richard Shick, Dean of the Wehle School of Business and Dr. Rosanne Hartmann, began the process of looking for a replacement for the position, which was vacated by Dr. David Ewing. The committee also features Fr. Michael Tunney, S.J., Brian Smith, Dr. Devonya Havis, Dr. Robert Grebenok, Dr. Debra Burhans, Dr. Marjorie Harrington, Dr. Richard Reitsma and Dr. Thomas Reiber

Since the departure of Ewing in 2014, the position has been filled on an interim-basis by Dr. Patricia Erickson, who was Director of the Criminal Justice program from 1999-2014 as well as Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice from 2005-10 and again from 2013-14.

After advertising the position over the summer, the College was inundated with a slew of applicants, 45 of which met the criteria that the College had outlined prior to the search. From there, the search committee met and each member was asked to identify their top three choices. After that, interviews were conducted online using GoToMeeting, a video-based conferencing website similar to Skype.

The candidates were then narrowed down further with four candidates left vying for the position. Over the past two weeks, each of the four candidates were subject to a day and a half of interviews with various members of the Canisius community.

“Day one starts at eight o’clock in the morning and ends after dinner,” Shick said. “The second day also starts at 8 o’clock and finishes up at one in the afternoon. And there’s a broad group of people – they’re meeting with students, there’s an open forum session with faculty. They’re meeting with representatives of the faculty senate; they’re meeting with the department chairs, program directors of arts and sciences. They’re meeting with President Hurley, Vice President of Academic Affairs [Margaret] McCarthy. They have an exit interview with the search committee, alumni, admissions…so it’s an endurance test!

“We’re doing two things, we’re trying to find the best candidate for the job and secondly we’re trying to sell them on coming here too,” Shick explained. “It’s not like we’re just trying to find the best candidate, we need to do a little selling along the way.”

Not surprisingly, Erickson is one of the remaining candidates as the College enters the final stage of the search process. The other three applicants are from outside the College and include Dr. David Darrow, Dr. Elizabeth Gill and Dr. Harry Dammer.

Darrow is looking to come to Canisius from the University of Scranton, a fellow Jesuit institution located in Scranton, Penn., where he is the Chair of the Sociology, Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. Darrow also spent some time at Niagara University and wrote that he “enjoyed living only a few blocks from Canisius on W. Ferry St” and felt that that gives him an awareness of the strengths and challenges facing Canisius today.

Gill, a graduate of Yale University and University of Texas, is presently the Director of the Women’s Leadership Network and Honors Program at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. Gill feels that her track record of leadership experiences, experience with programmatic assessment and institutional accreditation and “skills in fostering an inclusive diverse community” will allow her to succeed in the position.

Dammer is currently at the University of Dayton where he is Director of the University Honors Program and an Associate Professor of History. Dammer said his desire for the position stems from the “possibility it offers to work with faculty and administrative partners to create new opportunities for learning aimed at developing these types of graduates within the context of Canisius’ Ignatian tradition and its location in the classroom provided by the Buffalo region.”

The committee looks to wrap up their process by Thursday, Dec. 17, at which point it will present its findings to McCarthy and Canisius President and former Griffin editor John J. Hurley.

According to Shick, the candidate will, in all likelihood, be identified by the start of the spring semester, however they wouldn’t start until June 1 at the earliest since that is when the new academic year begins for the College.


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