For the past five years, the College of Arts & Sciences has been without an established leader. As such, its students have not had someone with a pronounced vision striving to offer the newest and best opportunities while also preserving a distinct Jesuit tradition.
However, the university’s selection of Richard Holz as the new dean looks incredibly promising.
Based on our interactions with Holz thus far, we believe he understands our university’s need for focus on holistic learning. In his meetings with students on campus prior to his selection as dean, he said a liberal arts education is intrinsically valuable and provides students with the ability to think critically and to envision a variety of future possibilities for life after college.
Holz also emphasized his desire to make progress in the areas of sustainability and environmental ethics, topics specifically cited as areas of concern by students who participated in strategic planning forums earlier this year.
Holz said during his visit that he wants students in the College of Arts & Sciences to know who he is and know he is accessible to them. He said that while he of course cannot have a constant line of students outside his office, he hopes to be able to address individual concerns and meet with students in the college and MUSG by having dinners and other events that offer the chance to connect. He also wants to improve advising, an issue at the forefront of MUSG legislation last month.
We welcome Holz’s new energy and vision for the college, and we hope he follows through on these admirable and well-thought-out goals. In addition to pursuing these plans, we encourage him to develop clear academic guidelines and facilitate communication between departments in the College of Arts & Sciences and across colleges.
We applaud the search committee for its hard work in this heavily scrutinized process. In the delicate wake of the controversial decision in the spring of 2010 to rescind an offer of deanship to Jodi O’Brien from Seattle University, the committee conducted itself with utmost care, striving for transparency and for as much meaningful input from students and faculty as possible.
Led by history professor Phillip Naylor, the committee provided hour-long lunches for students to get to know the final candidates better as well as meetings for the candidates to talk to faculty, Fr. Pilarz and Provost John Pauly. It hosted forums open to the public and provided video footage of these forums online so those who could not attend had the opportunity to provide input, too. We believe the committee took this input into serious consideration when selecting Holz, and we are grateful. We hope Marquette’s administration follows this model of thorough and transparent decision-making in the future.
It is regrettable that an entire class of students in the College of Arts & Sciences did not have a dean for the duration of their time at Marquette. We believe, however, that this search provided current and future students with a strong leader for years to come. Holz seems capable of managing this position without getting caught in the bureaucracies of it.
While this deanship may seem slightly tainted for students and faculty who experienced the negativity surrounding the 2010 incident, we want to move forward as a university and focus on making improvements with Holz so his job can be viewed in the positive light it deserves.
The College of Arts & Sciences is the largest college at Marquette. It has the most majors and the most students, is home to the honors program and is symbolic of the university’s broader liberal arts, Jesuit focus. It also contains the core of common studies, so its leadership affects every single student to step onto campus.
We are excited for this historic opportunity to welcome a new dean to our Marquette community, and we are eager to see what Holz has to offer.