Editorial: An open letter to the newly appointed Deans

Dear Deans J. Murray Gibson, Georges Van Den Abbeele, and Xavier Costa,

On behalf of the Northeastern community, The News welcomes you to the home of the Huskies and to Boston. You have been selected by a diverse committee of graduate and undergraduate students and faculty members and confirmed by Provost Stephen Director to become the founding deans of our three new colleges. We hope that you appreciate the unique and rare opportunity that you have been offered to pioneer three new colleges at an established university.

Northeastern students are unlike any other that you may have worked with in the past, a unique breed. We are driven, busy, and very career-oriented. The culture at Northeastern is expanding, but also very transitive. Our school spirit may not manifest itself like it does at other schools as we travel abroad to study or to our homes around the nation and world for co-op, but we are Huskies at our core, no matter where we are.

Our desire to excel is a part of our greater desire to one day establish ourselves as creators, thinkers, and achievers, not unlike yourselves. However, many students are unaware of how significant an impact deans at the collegiate level play in a students life, both academically and socially. You will be shaping the entire future of the college, and your task will be to make students understand your role by showing them progressive, tangible changes that benefit both the individual and the college.

You have all been lauded for your international esteem and ability to create and execute interdisciplinary projects on a global scale. But here in Boston, students and faculty will first be looking to you to help to alleviate the NU Shuffle, a frustrating, sometimes maddening process of passing students off and routing their issues through many disparate offices and processes. Too many students have been forced to forgo their international study or co-op plans or settle for less because of it. They want to stop hearing no and start getting the help they need to find their way. They want to cut the red tape.

To Dean Gibson, the Scottish scientist who will lead the College of Science, remember that Northeastern students have new ideas and undiscovered talents. As physicist William Lawrence Bragg said, “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” They will want opportunities to do both. Give them the support and resources to perform research and apply their knowledge.

To Dean Van Den Abbeele, the scholar of Romance languages, who, like President Aoun, has been transplanted from California and will lead the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, provide students with opportunities to immerse themselves in their field and forge new paths. Remember to balance between the qualitative and quantitative aspects of a student’s social science education, but also allow them the freedom to engage and explore their interests in their own way.

To Dean Costa, the Spanish architect who will lead the College of Arts, Media, and Design, remember that simply enabling creativity and giving students academic freedom can be the most powerful way to allow the students to establish their own enriching culture of the college. Promote interdisciplinary teamwork that is relevant and up-to-date that will make students competitive leaders in fields that are rapidly changing.

We hope that as you move forward and acquaint yourselves with your new role, you keep in mind the somewhat unfavorable circumstances and resistance that preceded the creation of the new colleges. Many people were unhappy about how decisions were made regarding the College of Criminal Justice, how the previous deans were treated and the lack of transparency in how these new colleges came into existence.

Their dissatisfaction should not be a black cloud over your new tenure, but instead a lesson that Northeastern faculty and students are passionate about their pursuits and take their educational careers seriously. Many would agree that the most distressing part of the change was not the change itself, but how it was managed. They understood that tough decisions must be made, and they have now entrusted you to prove them wrong when they said the college restructuring isn’t a good idea. Don’t let them down.

Students look forward to being active and involved participants in the administration of your duties. They are eager to work with you and the professors you supervise to sustain and nurture the academic environment of the school they not only attend, but love. They are eager to see the creative ways your leadership will help them to make achieving their goals easier, simpler, and more seamless. They want to be a part of improving the quality and meaning of a Northeastern education for themselves and for future students.

The students who hold you accountable for the future of their education ask that you treat them as adults and recognize their contributions. Please do not underestimate or ignore them, waste their time, or squander their resources. Please behave ethically and strive to incorporate student input and transparency in your work. In making decisions that effect them, your top priority should always be the best interests of the students.

The Huntington News Staff

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