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'Openness' to be Dean's Trademark

Date: Oct. 17, 2001
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photo by: Dottie Stover
Archive: Campus News

If pressed to select one characteristic she wants her deanship to be known for, she would choose "transparency," said Karen L. Gould, new dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Karen Gould

"The issues will be put out there, and they will be debated... In order to do the best job you can, you really need to be an investigator and listen to all sides of the issues...I am not a person who has trouble admitting I've changed my mind if that's the case," said Gould, who has been on the job at UC since Sept. 10.

Gould looks forward to helping the university recognize "the very central role" that A&S plays at UC and "helping us to articulate even more successfully what that role entails."

Part of the attraction of coming to UC was the opportunity to take on a bigger challenge at a major university with an excellent reputation. She came to McMicken with prior experience as a dean, leading Old Dominion University's College of Arts and Letters for the past five years. With 2,500 undergraduates, 350 graduate students and an annual budget of $11 million, her former college is less than half the size of new one. The McMicken College of Arts and Sciences' budget, which is comprised primarily of faculty and staff salaries, is approximately $50 million a year. At ODU, she oversaw one doctoral program. McMicken has more than a dozen.

Gould's new position also presents her with a chance to provide leadership in a college with the full complement of arts and sciences, rather than only the arts, humanities and social sciences. Gould herself is an expert in French literature, particularly modern Quebec writing by women. She's the first non-scientist to head McMicken for at least the past 14 years. (A historian, Ron Pollitt, led the college for two years on an interim basis in 1986-87 prior to chemist Joseph Caruso's term as dean, according to Kevin Grace, assistant head of University Archives).

Gould began her teaching career in 1970 as a teaching fellow at the University of Oregon, Eugene. The California native earned her PhD in Romance languages in 1975 at the University of Oregon, accepting her first faculty position at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn. She also taught at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University from 1980 to 1985 before moving on to Bowling Green State University (BGSU), where she began to work in administrative areas in addition to academic ones.

"I had no intention of becoming a dean when I finished my PhD," she said. But at BGSU, she served as graduate coordinator, and then as associate graduate dean, and began to realize how much she enjoyed working on a broader administrative level. In 1996, she accepted an offer to become dean at Old Dominion. She quickly learned that she liked the variety of challenges in that role.

"I wanted to be a dean again because I enjoy the diversity of the academic enterprise. Academics -- we like to learn as much as we like to teach," she said. And being a dean continuously allows her to learn about a whole host of disciplines outside her own.

An avid student of ballet and jazz dancing before she began her career in academia, Gould admits she will miss the performing arts departments she supervised in her old post. "But I certainly know they are in good hands here," she said, adding that her attendance at College-Conservatory of Music performances will be enough to keep her performing arts interests satisfied.

One of her first priorities at McMicken will be filling a position focusing on fund raising and deciding how to get the college on course for expanding its financial resources from donations and outside funding.

She has already instituted a Faculty Forum Series that begins Oct. 18, with political scientist Richard Harknett organizing the first segment on the recent terrorist attacks and their aftermath. "The classroom is one place to teach, but open forums are also another. There are important issues that can be addressed, as an intellectual contribution to the life of campus," she explained.

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