Chris McCord to Assume Dean's Role at NIU
Christopher McCord helped solve many problems and asked countless good questions during his years at McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
Christopher McCord helped solve many problems and asked countless good questions during his years at McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. He takes the next step in a solid career in June, leaving A&S, where he serves as associate dean for graduate affairs, for the dean's role at Northern Illinois University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
McCord will oversee the largest of NIU’s seven colleges, with 17 departments, 385 faculty positions, more than 6,500 undergraduates and more than 1,200 graduate students.
Chris McCord, associate dean for graduate affairs, is pictured at Eden Park with his sons, Thomas, left, and Brock, center.
"We landed our very top choice," NIU Provost Raymond Alden said in a press release. "He was the unanimous preference of the search committee."
Here at UC, McCord remembers with a laugh, his 21-year tenure found him going from very green to associate dean. Just ask about what he remembers about his first days here as an assistant professor of mathematics. It was the mid-1980s, and he felt lucky, he said, to land a tenure-track position in a good research department.
"I was wet behind the ears," said the northern Ohio native. "I was 25 and straight out of graduate school – just four years out from my undergraduate degree, when I started teaching here. It showed in almost everything I did – I was really green."
He "went through the trajectory many of us do," he said, going from "being about the profession and being a mathematician" to getting his research and identity established.
And getting actively involved in departmental life, including committee work, came quickly and often for McCord, who holds bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics from Bowling Green State University and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He's proud of many achievements, including helping improve the structure and status of what was then the Taft Memorial Fund and is now the Taft Research Center. McCord served as director for five years, working with external trustees and leading a strategic-planning process that refocused the fund's mission. That drive, in turn, led to the creation of the Center.
"I was one of many who helped give it greater visibility, and the opportunity to be much more prominent on a national scale," McCord said. "That growth began under my tenure and reached fruition when Rich Harknett took over … that's something I'm proud of."
"Chris McCord rendered exemplary service on many fronts," said Anthony J. Perzigian, senior vice president and provost for baccalaureate and graduate education. "Besides his distinguished service as associate dean and acting head, he provided visionary leadership as chair of the Taft Faculty Committee."
Chris McCord, associate dean for graduate affairs, shared thoughts on Dean Karen Gould at her going-away party earlier this year.
McCord also is happy about his role in helping the Department of Economics "re-emerge from a difficult period in the department's life," serving as interim head and helping them look at how they were solving problems. In addition, he served as founding director of UC's Preparing Future Faculty Program, dedicated to improving the preparation of doctoral students for faculty positions.
And he's only learned more since stepping into his associate dean's role in 2003.
"I'm proud of what we've done collectively to raise the profile of the college, of being part of Karen Gould's team and working with her to bring our contributions to the public eye, in spite of difficult budget periods," he said. "It was no one thing – it was the whole process we've all been through."
Gigi Escoe, associate dean for undergraduate affairs, praised McCord's talents as an administrator, faculty member and teacher.
"It will be a great loss to A&S, but Chris is ready to be a dean," she said. "He is both very rational and very numeric, and he brought that skill set to the dean's office, where it was much appreciated. And, he's a great colleague."
George Uetz, associate dean for research, calls McCord "an essential member of the A&S team" who will be missed.
McCord is "very deliberate and level-headed, and can always be counted on to offer an informed opinion based on facts – sometimes a very detailed analyses of facts – which is critical to fairness in academic decision-making," Uetz said. "He shoulders a tremendous workload with apparent ease, but supported by many hours of work. I have learned a lot from him, and though I'm really happy for him as he makes this great step in his career, I am sad to see him go."
McCord knew as long ago as 1994, he said, that administration was a path he could go down: "I knew I liked it, and felt I was good at it," he said. Accordingly, he leaves UC with confidence in his abilities and an eye already trained on the demands of strategic planning in his new role.
"After the experience at Taft, and in Economics, it became more and more clear that this is my niche; that my ability to contribute is in administration," he said. "And this is the next logical step … I'm looking forward to looking at things with new eyes and asking some of those seemingly innocent questions. I'm going to be going in and learning all I can – and I've gotten pretty good at knowing what questions to ask!"
And part of that confidence comes from the wealth of support and knowledge his UC colleagues provided.
"I'll be taking with me not only my own experiences but everything I've learned from everyone else here, and putting it all to good use," he said.
A reception for Chris McCord begins at 3:30 p.m. May 23 at Stratford Community Center. Please RSVP to Barb Stallmeyer at Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 556-5858.
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