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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New Dean ‘Still Student’

It was during her undergraduate tenure at Adelphi University, amid the backdrop of the 1960s, that Donna Kuizenga got herself into some trouble with the Board of Trustees after using a “four-letter-word” as a news reporter and managing editor for the college’s student newspaper.

The newly appointed dean of the College of Liberal Arts hopes to forge a more cordial relationship with the faculty and administration here as she begins her first fall semester with the university.

As both an amateur flutist and a professor with experience at a variety of institutions spanning the United States and abroad, Dr. Kuizenga has maintained a perspective of both student and teacher that she sees as an asset to her new office. “I go to a chamber music workshop every summer and I take flute lessons still, which is always good because I’m always a student,” says Kuizenga.

“I think its very important for a Dean to understand the perspective of a faculty member and to understand what it means to do research and what it means to teach. And I think that it’s also very important to remember that the people we teach are students, and its very helpful for me that I still am a student because being a student is a different experience than being a teacher and it’s very good for me to keep that other perspective,” she says.

Kuizenga, who spent the last nine years as the associate dean of arts and sciences at the University of Vermont, says that the transition to her position here has been an easy one. “In some ways it’s the same because I’m doing a lot of the same kinds of things,” she says. “It’s different because now I am the person who is finally responsible, where I wasn’t before. It’s also different, because this is a college of liberal arts not a college of arts and sciences, and what’s interesting about that is that we have grouped together here people, who despite the diversity of the programs, have more common interests.”

Kuizenga explains her role as dean is the next level up. “What the dean needs to do is to make sure that the department chairs have the tools they need in order to deliver a good academic program,” says Kuizenga. According to her, a lot of factors play in achieving this goal, including faculty hiring, support of faculty research projects, and curriculum development.

She added that as dean “you need to think about what it is that makes a college more than just the sum of its parts, what are the things that the college as a college does beyond just what the departments do? …You’re working with people all the time, working with faculty, staff, administrator and students all the time. It’s really very much of a people job and that’s one of the things I like about it, that’s what makes it fun.”

Kuizenga has a number of different plans for the college, including making improvements within advising for the majors, ensuring that there are strong faculty involved in the first year seminars, and improving the college web page. She also plans on taking steps to create a Center for Urban Cultural History to bring together many people’s research at the university as a reflection of its urban mission. In the long term, she hopes to rebuild the Liberal Arts faculty after losses stemming from retirements, work along with faculty to balance traditional liberal arts education with new innovations, and increase the public profile of the college.

Kuizenga notes that UMB is enormously different from her last position at the University of Vermont. Although it is a public university, University of Vermont has more of a private institution atmosphere than UMB, with expensive tuition and traditional-aged residential students.

“I really liked the people I met during the search process,” she says. “[T]he other thing is that I very much believe in the mission of this campus. Which is to say that I believe that everyone who has the ability should have access to a first rate education.”

She says she is pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a diverse faculty, administration, and student body. “I felt that I really had a lot in common with the faculty in terms of their ambitions for the college, in terms of their commitment to the students, in terms of their level of scholarly achievement, all of those things. And of course Boston’s nice too,” she said.