Two years ago, three new deans took office: Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William Shain. After two years on the job, Foster, Judd, and Shain reflect on their positions, lay out top priorities, and make projections about where they would like to see their offices headed in the future.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster
When Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster is asked about plans for the future of student life at Bowdoin, he can hardly contain his excitement. Now finishing up his second academic year on the job, Foster looks ahead with incredible enthusiasm.
He has also required that everyone in student affairs plan for the future in a concrete way. Every department is currently preparing a five-year strategic plan, which will be presented at the office's spring retreat.
"The strategic plan will be helpful to center people on what we plan to do going forward," Foster said.
The Career Planning Center (CPC) is one of the areas that Foster is most concerned about.
"We are right now in the middle of reinventing career planning," Foster said.
According to a booklet that contains a preliminary outline of the plans to revamp the CPC, "Peer benchmark institutions like Middlebury, Williams, and Bates have twice the staffing and operating resources of [Bowdoin's CPC]."
"Career planning needs to be a point of distinction for the College," Foster said, listing the Dining Service and Outing Club among the College's current "points of distinction."
Foster said that his office is also investigating ways in which to "support a vibrant social experience that's not centered on alcohol." He mentioned a "Bowdoin After Midnight" initiative that would provide social offerings for students that do not involve drinking.
"Pockets of whiteness on campus" are another concern of Foster's. The "pockets" Foster refers to are organizations on campus that do not reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the student body. His office has collected data about what kinds of students are involved with certain organizations in order to assess the situation.
The Outing Club and athletics are two areas in which minority students are underrepresented. Foster said that overall, athletics are less diverse than the student body, but that there is a "radical difference from team to team."
In terms of student leadership, Foster said that students of color are accurately represented among campus leaders.
"Probably one of the most important things we do is support students in their leadership roles," Foster said, adding that his office tries to "quietly help fund" student initiatives.
"I'm a believer in students being at the center of creating their own experience and culture of the College," Foster said.
He added that he tries to support an environment that allows students' "good ideas to bubble up and to happen."
Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd
When Cristle Collins Judd began her position as dean of academic affairs two years ago, she entered the position under potentially challenging circumstances: she transitioned from a research university?the University of Pennsylvania?to a liberal arts college and also became the first-ever female dean of academic affairs at Bowdoin. Judd also replaced Craig McEwen, a man that was generally well-liked and respected among faculty.
As Judd finishes her second academic year, she explained that these potential challenges have proved to be "wonderful opportunities."
"Coming from a larger research university perhaps increased the learning curve, but the kind of research-infused teaching that we value at Bowdoin very much aligns with aspects of my own priorities as a faculty member at Penn," Judd wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.
Judd described her predecessor, Craig McEwen, who now serves as a professor in the sociology and anthropology department, as being "extraordinarily helpful and gracious in facilitating the transition in the dean's office."
"I am fortunate to follow Craig McEwen in the Dean's office and to benefit from all of the groundwork he laid," Judd wrote.
And while Judd is the first-ever female dean of academic affairs, she wrote that "there are many women in a variety of senior positions in the faculty and administration, on the campus and on the Board of Trustees, and they have proven to be a wonderful, generous, and helpful peer group."
According to Judd, her top three priorities have remained constant since she first began her job. First, she aims to support faculty in the "difficult mission" of being both scholars and teachers. Next, she said she hopes to insure a culture of intellectual inquiry among undergraduates. Finally, she said that she has tried to support the arts at the College.
"We're in a good place, and we want to move to an even better place," Judd said in reference to the number of faculty members at Bowdoin who are both excellent teachers and scholars.
She described faculty hiring, tenure, and review as "probably the most important thing I do."
During her first semester on the job, Judd listed the academic advising system and visibility of her office among her concerns. She also said that she spent her first year thinking about the structure of the office. Since then, a new position, associate dean for curriculum, has been added to the office of the dean for academic affairs to handle matters of curriculum and advising.
Although Judd has taken on substantial responsibilities as dean for academic affairs, she has not let them cut her off from her own academic pursuits. Judd, who served as Professor of Music at Penn from 1993 until landing her job at Bowdoin, also takes her studies in music seriously.
"I take very seriously my role as a scholar-leader of the campus," Judd said. "It's very important for me to remain an engaged scholar in my field."
Since taking office, Judd has published three conference papers and a few articles, reviewed other scholars' work in her field, and given talks at other colleges and universities.
"I'm doing the things that scholars do?not at the pace I once did."
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William Shain
Dean of Admissions William Shain will confess that he misses having three months of spring like he did when he worked at Vanderbilt University. Even so, he said that his transition to Bowdoin has been "a pretty happy experience."
During his first two years in office, Shain has worked toward building a student body that is "as bright as any in the country, but that is also engaged with the outside community." He also said that he has tried to continue the "impressive work" of Bowdoin's admissions office that preceded him.
"This is an amazingly upbeat place for a community of intellectuals," Shain said.
According to Shain, prospective students are in closer contact with the student body than they are with the admissions office. For this reason, Shain said he thinks it is the Bowdoin community and its leadership that have attracted so many applicants during his time in office.
"The community represents itself so well," he said.
This year, a record 6,021 students applied, while last year, 5,961 applied.
"It's very easy to attract people to a place this vibrant," Shain said.
Asked what he thinks of Bowdoin recently being named "School of the Year," by the popular guidebook "College Prowler," Shain said, "I think ratings are inherently impossible." However, he added that if an institution was going to be named school of the year, it might as well be Bowdoin.
Shain said that the hardest part of his job is turning down applicants that he thinks would be successful at Bowdoin.
"I wish we had more places for the terrific people we don't have room for," he said.
According to Shain, the majority of students who are accepted at Bowdoin but decide not to enroll end up matriculating at an Ivy League school, Williams, or Amherst. Shain said that he wished that every admitted student who feels that Bowdoin is the best fit would choose to enroll.
"I wish that students who know that Bowdoin is a better place for them could transcend the prestige of the Ivies."
He also acknowledged Bowdoin's prestige, but said that he hoped it was not a selling point.
"I don't think anyone at Bowdoin wants people to choose Bowdoin for its prestige, they want them to choose it for the terrific place we are," Shain said.