Chancellor Search Committee represents half of school’s colleges


Beth Stroble left the role of chancellor at the end of 2023. The committee to search for her replacement has a direct faculty representative from half of the academic departments on campus, leaving out the schools of Humanities and Social Sciences, Education and Communications. 

“You must balance the needs of the stakeholders and make sure that you have a broad range of [them] within a group,” Stephanie Mahfood, dean of Education said. “Too many cooks in the kitchen can make things complicated and not run efficiently.”

Photo by Vanessa Jones

Mahfood is not as concerned by the lack of representation as other faculty members, such as those within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Some individuals within this department made their opinion clear to other faculty members after the makeup of the search committee was first shared. 

“I understand that there’s limited slots available, but I would have preferred there to be at least some kind of representative for each college,” David Pennington, assistant professor of history said.

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences is cemented within Webster’s identity. Not only are the department’s classes a requirement for the Global Citizenship Program, but its teachings reflect what the university stands for. 

“Upholding our [school] mission requires strong humanities and social science programs,” history professor Warren Rosenblum said. “So, the chancellor must be ready to support these programs, even in the face of dire financial distress and other long-term threats to the institution.”

While the School of Humanities and Social Sciences department is far from being dropped or defunded, there have been smaller enrollment numbers within the last three to four years. Some programs within the department have seen growth while others have shrunk. 

“There are certain smaller programs that I think make Webster really cool, interesting, and unique that incoming students can then discover and latch onto,” Pennington said. “I think we need an advocate who’s able to say, ‘temporary downturns in these programs does not mean they should be on the chopping block or that they’re not important.’”

Despite the concern at the lack of a direct advocate, faculty members from all schools are encouraged to share any input they may have about the search with the committee. Staff members can speak to Faculty Senate President Julie Palmer with any input of their own. 

“We are very fortunate to be represented by a very able bodied senator,” Mahfood said. “I’m very grateful to [Palmer] that she’s able to represent the School of Education’s interests and perspectives as the Senate interfaces with the search committee and the board where those kinds of conversations are happening.”

Along with Palmer, Stuart Chapman Hill, associate professor and director of Music Education, and Micheal Hulsizer, dean of the College of Science and Health, will represent their departments and the voices of other faculty members. 

“I do have confidence in the faculty who are on the committee, that they aren’t going to disregard our college’s interests altogether,” Pennington said. 

Although not every school is represented, the search includes faculty, alumni and a current student, among others. The cooperation of those on the board will determine the new chancellor, as well as the future of the university. 

“What makes Webster such a wonderful place is the commitment of all of its faculty and its units to providing quality education to students,” Mahfood said. “So I’m looking forward to having a chancellor who really is committed to understanding that work and supporting it.”

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