Professor becomes associate dean of College of Arts and Sciences

John Pell, an assistant professor of English at Whitworth, will assume the duties of associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences effective July 1 of this year. The Whitworth College of Arts and Sciences was established in 2012 and its dean, Noelle Wiersma, has been operating without an associate dean since it was created.

“When the College of Arts and Sciences was first established, the plan initially was to have an associate dean to help run things; but there was wisdom in waiting to see what it was that the dean actually needed an associate dean to do,” associate provost of instruction Randy Michaelis said.

The exact roles of the associate dean have not been finalized, but tentatively, Pell will be assisting in planning around enrollment, needs analysis and scheduling, with specific attention to general education courses. He will analyze multiple factors, including admissions and assessments, and will make recommendations to dean Wiersma based on his findings.

Professor Vic Bobb discussed his approval to the appointment of John Pell as the associate dean.

“I believe one of the reasons John has been chosen is because he is so effective with the University Writing Program,” Bobb said. “He is good at it, and has brought energy and ideas to the job. I’m assuming that it is his performance there that has led them to say he is an excellent choice because he is well organized and great at getting things done.”

In a press release on Pirate Port, dean Wiersma also expressed her confidence in Pell.

Wiersma is deeply encouraged by the demonstrated gifts and promise John brings to this position, she said. Pell’s research, thoughtfulness and persuasive influence is well illustrated in his recent general education forum presentation, and he emphasizes how the plans for liberal education and any related gen ed revision must begin with a clear sense of who we currently are.

In an e-mail interview, Pell described his research and how he hopes to apply it to his newly appointed position.

“My dissertation and subsequent research focuses on how the types of orientations we have toward others determines our ability to effectively collaborate in order to solve shared problems,” Pell said. “In other words, our views toward another person, even prior to our interactions with them, says a lot about how we will work together. In my work, empathy is the term I use to describe an openness toward others, a position that makes collaboration possible.”

Pell’s hope is that by being open to sharing and collaborating with others, we might be able to solve problems in ways that does justice to the needs of all of those involved, he said.

“This, it seems to me, is one of the central challenges to the healthy growth and maintenance of any large institution--holding others in high regard and engaging with their ideas and concerns with a collaborative spirit,” he said.

In congruence with Pell’s research, Michaelis believes collaboration to be a strong point in his character.

“John’s leadership style is collaborative. The position requires a lot of collaboration and John has already shown that ability,” Michaelis said.


Lee Morgan

Staff Writer

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