Michael Hulsizer said he will listen to students and faculty and find ways to meet their needs during his time as interim dean. He is also continuing to teach.
At the beginning of the year, Michael Hulsizer started his new position as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He has previously served as the chair of the Psychology Department and has taught full-time at the university since 1997.
Still maintaining a connection to his roots, Hulsizer is teaching a first term class while balancing the responsibilities of dean.
“I really wanted to keep one foot in the door with teaching,” Hulsizer said.
Hulsizer oversees program success, student recruitment, admissions, budgeting and more as interim dean. Additionally, Hulsizer said he is working to meet the needs of students and faculty.
“Putting our best foot forward, making sure we have good communication,” Hulsizer said. “What can we do as a college to recruit new students? What can we do to make life better for the students we currently have and how can we keep them connected?”
In order to excel in his role, Hulsizer plans to listen to students, faculty and staff and be proactive in his solutions.
“Some of the best ideas I get come from students or faculty that drop in,” Hulsizer said. “It’s about getting those ideas coming from people.”
Jennifer Broeder in the Nursing Department has been Hulsizer’s colleague for over 20 years. She commended Hulsizer on his long-time advocacy to students and faculty.
“He’s well-respected. He’s a really organized, strong communicator,” Broeder said. “All those qualities are already shining through and I think we’ll see it even more.”
Broeder served as the interim dean alongside Joseph Stimpfl from October 2015 to January 2017. She then served by herself until June 2017. As interim dean, she was focused on program accreditation and the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science Building – also known as Browning Hall.
Currently, Hulsizer is working on putting together a newsletter for the college, which he said would include highlights of faculty and student achievements. He is also working on spreading alumni stories to inspire prospective students to choose Webster.
Broeder shared similar goals with Hulsizer during her time as interim dean.
“Developing relationships, being a good communicator, being transparent was really important to me. I wanted to be open and clear to the chairs about what I was learning about things happening in the university,” Broeder said.
Undeterred by the increase in workload, Hulsizer continues to make time for his role as a professor.
“My door is always open, and I’ve set up some Zoom hours; 11 to 12 on Thursdays I try to have an open Zoom session,” Hulsizer said.
Hulsizer advocates for discussions with students over Zoom rather than email because there is more clear communication. He says while people may be tired of Zoom, it serves a purpose with communicating and being able to see the person you are talking to.
“I’m a psychologist, so one thing that’s really important is those non-verbals,” Hulsizer said. “We can look at each other … here [on Zoom] we can talk and we have those non-verbals.”
Senior Matthew Scott, who has taken several of Hulsizer’s classes, said he was student-centered and extremely helpful when it came to class assignments.
“He helped me to get a better understanding of the course concepts,” Scott said. “We did a Zoom meeting where … he was giving pointers on the final project. We had to write up an analysis. He walked me through it so I wasn’t lost.”
Scott took Advanced Statistics with Hulsizer as a junior. Scott said Hulsizer engages the class and makes sure everyone is on the same page before moving on.
“He’d walk around the class to see if we were on the right track, and if we were having trouble, he’d tell us the next step,” Scott said.
Even though Hulsizer is tackling more responsibilities as a professor and dean, he is not discouraged or burnt out.
Broeder said the interim position can be challenging because it is not necessarily known how long one will serve in the position. But, Broeder said you have to persevere.
“No matter what time length, you need goals,” Broeder said. “Don’t worry about how long you’re going to be in this role, just keep things flowing.”
For Hulsizer, the unknown amount of time he will be spending in his role will be used trying to enhance the college’s programs and student happiness.