Dr. Mary Frances Malone, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, to retire after 35 years of service to Fairfield. DSB dean search in final stages, and more
Since the announcement at the end of February of my appointment as Fairfield University’s new provost, I have heard from many of you with congratulations and well-wishes. I am honored to have been asked to serve such a generous and supportive community, and proud of what we have accomplished over the past year. The promise of our ongoing shared work informs each decision I make as we strive to achieve modern excellence.
In recent weeks, as you’ve welcomed me to my new role, some of you have also commented about my continued use of the adjective “interim” in my title, suggesting that I should remove it. I would like to share with you that rather than an oversight, the ongoing use of this adjective is a strategic decision to signal that although the provost search has concluded, we remain in a period of transition.
This transition is taking many forms, some of them evident to you, others new to all of us. Today, I write to you to share a momentous one: Dr. Mary Frances Malone, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, has informed me of her decision to retire from Fairfield after 35 years of service to the University. Nothing I could say can truly encompass all that Mary Frances has meant and will continue to mean to this University, and in the coming months, there will be many opportunities to recognize her numerous contributions to all of our lives. Today, I offer my personal gratitude for her encouragement, guidance, wise counsel, and many graces over my 13 years at Fairfield. As you see Mary Frances in the coming days and weeks, please share with her the ways in which you have benefited from her presence on this campus. Her contributions to our community of teaching and learning represent the best of who we are.
I also thank Mary Frances for her willingness to continue in her role as associate vice president until the end of the fall 2018 semester. In this way, she can bring forward her keen insights regarding organizational structure and her vast institutional knowledge to support the transition to a new team in the Provost’s Office. She will therefore be with me as I restructure the current Office of Academic Affairs into a Provost’s Office designed to strategically advance the University. In consultation with President Nemec, I have begun work on such a design and presented an overview of this plan to the Board of Trustees last week. As it is further refined and developed over the coming months, I look forward to sharing with all of you the opportunities the new structure will present for leadership roles and a deepened engagement in our work.
I mentioned that some transitions are known to you already, and others are new; I’d like to update you on progress that is ongoing regarding several of these. I wrote to you recently that Vice Provost and former Dolan School of Business Dean Don Gibson will be leaving Fairfield University at the end of this academic year to assume the role of dean of the O’Malley School of Business at Manhattan College. The search for the next DSB dean is well underway. The search committee met at the end of March to interview semi-finalists and identify four finalists, who emerged as the best among a large and diverse pool of highly qualified applicants. Campus visits for these finalists began this week and will continue through early May. Members from across the University community have been invited to participate in interviews with the finalists, and the Search Committee will be gathering your feedback to inform my decision making. At this pace, I hope to be able to announce the appointment of a new Dolan School dean before the end of the semester.
You will also recall that School of Engineering Dean Bruce Berdanier is stepping down from his position at the end of May. Following a series of conversations with engineering faculty, I have decided that the best way to ensure their sustained excellence in teaching and applied research is to hire an external candidate to serve as their interim dean for the 2018-2019 academic year. To this end, I have contracted AGB Search, the firm that brought us Dean Richard Greenwald and Vice Provost Walter Rankin last year, to identify a pool of engineers with significant past experience in academic leadership roles at institutions like Fairfield University. From this pool, I will select a candidate to head up the School of Engineering next year, during which time the University will undertake a national search for the School’s next permanent dean. As with all decanal hires, next year’s search will be conducted through a process of shared governance involving a search committee with faculty representation. I thank the engineering faculty for their engagement in conversation with me over the past weeks, and I thank all of you across campus for your support of our engineering colleagues as they transition to new leadership over the next year.
As I hope you you can see, I remain committed to our shared work, and grateful for each of your contributions; those who are leaving us enrich us with their legacies, and those who are remaining are invited to join with me as we welcome new colleagues and deepen our commitment to the crucial and ongoing work of the University. With this in mind, I look to forward to officially assuming the role of Provost – sans adjective – on July 1st.
Christine Siegel, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs