So You Want to be a Dean? Pathways to the Deanship

Kate Conley, Shaily Menon (Eds.)

by Shaily Menon (University of New Haven), Kate Conley (William & Mary), Michelle A. Massé (Louisiana State University), Timothy D. Hall (Samford University), Valerio Ferme (University of Cincinnati), Claire Oberon Garcia (Colorado College), Frederick J. Antczak (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State), Bonnie Gunzenhauser (John Carroll University), Karen Petersen (University of Tulsa), Sheryl I. Fontaine (California State University, Fullerton), Emily A. Haddad (University of Maine), Reginald A. Wilburn (Texas Christian University), Julie Candler Hayes (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Paula M. Krebs (Modern Language Association)

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This volume comprises chapters by humanist and interdisciplinary arts and sciences faculty who became academic deans, with reflections on how they used their position to further the liberal arts, fulfill special projects, and play a leadership role in shared governance on their campuses. These chapters shed light on how these colleagues were motivated to join the administration in public and private, large and small institutions, how their career pathways led them there, what their jobs entailed, what was some of the satisfaction they derived from their work, and, in some cases, how they felt about the experience.

So You Want to be a Dean? provides a critical update to the experience of academic leadership at American colleges and universities during the pandemic because of the focus on leading a liberal arts faculty through Covid-19. The core focus of the volume is on the experience of leadership through personal reflections provided by academic leaders, the spark that motivates them to serve their colleagues and their university in their capacity as deans.

This volume will greatly benefit mid-career academics in all fields working at American liberal arts colleges and universities who are curious about possible pathways into administration for faculty and the rewards that such career choices may hold.


Kate Conley
William & Mary
Shaily Menon
University of New Haven

Leadership as Journey

Work, Pilgrimage, and Identity: An Interdisciplinary Journey in Arts and Sciences
Shaily Menon
University of New Haven

Administration as Feminist Practice
Kate Conley
William & Mary

Narrating Administration
Michelle A. Massé
Louisiana State University

Discovering a Calling: How I became a Dean
Timothy D. Hall
Samford University

Reinventing my “Why?”: A Journey of Discovery Through Deaning”
Valerio Ferme
University of Cincinnati

Leadership for Institutional Change

Making the Transition from Faculty to Dean during Major Institutional Change
Claire Oberon Garcia
Colorado College

Something Like a Fresh Start: “Founding” a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Frederick J. Antczak
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State

The Inside Track: Becoming Dean at your Home Institution
Bonnie Gunzenhauser
John Carroll University

The Seemingly Small Matters that Shape Our Future: Timely Questions, Epiphanies, and Saying Yes to Opportunities
Karen Petersen
University of Tulsa

Leadership Preparation

How to be a Dean? Prepare for a Pandemic
Sheryl I. Fontaine
California State University, Fullerton

A Dean’s Letter to a Friend Considering a Dean Posting
Emily A. Haddad
University of Maine

Advancing as a Faculty-Colleague’s Academic Leader
Reginald A. Wilburn
Texas Christian University

From Here to Career: A Circuitous Path toward Building Undergraduate Career Services
Julie Candler Hayes
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Side Jobs and Academic Service
Paula M. Krebs
Modern Language Association



Kate Conley holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from the University of Colorado, both in French. Her BA in English is from Harvard University.

Dr. Conley was the Edward Tuck Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College, where she served five years as Associate Dean for the Arts & Humanities. After this, she was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at William & Mary from 2012 to 2020, where she oversaw a renewal of the undergraduate curriculum renamed the COLL curriculum (for “College”). During her tenure as Dean, Dr. Conley led the effort in diversity and inclusion and the undergraduate joint-degree program with St. Andrews University in Scotland. New majors and minors were created on her watch, including programs in Native Studies, Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies, and Data Science.

She has published three books on the surrealist movement with the University of Nebraska Press, Surrealist Ghostliness (2013), Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life (2003), and Automatic Woman: The Representation of Woman in Surrealism (1996), as well as two co-edited volumes, Robert Desnos pour l’an 2000, with Marie-Claire Dumas (Gallimard, 2000), and, with Georgiana Colvile, La Femme s’entête: La Part du féminin dans le surréalisme (Lachenal & Ritter, 1998). Dr. Conley is now Chancellor Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at William & Mary, and her current research is on surrealist collections.

Shaily Menon holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and an MS from the University of South Carolina. She earned an MSc from the University of Bombay and a BSc from Xavier University in Mumbai, India.

Dr. Menon was an ACE Fellow at San Francisco State University during 2015-16. Previously, she was an Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Biology and Natural Resources Management at Grand Valley State University. Her teaching and research have been in conservation biology, environmental ethics, global change, spatial modeling, and systems dynamics. She joined the University of New Haven as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in May 2021, after serving as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Joseph’s University from 2017 to 2021.

Under her leadership, the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Joseph’s University launched programs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, computational engineering and applied physics, cybersecurity, graphic design, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and public policy. She helped forge a partnership with a local biotech startup for incubator space on campus and student experiential learning in translational medicine, humoral immuno-oncology, and entrepreneurship. She facilitated the successful launch of the School of Health Studies and Education and the related search for the founding dean. At the University of New Haven, she is fostering university-wide interdisciplinary initiatives. She is active in diversity, inclusion and equity efforts and serves on the Board of Directors of two national organizations: The Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) and Asian Pacific Americans for Higher Education (APAHE).

leadership, administration, deanship, liberal arts, arts and sciences, faculty, academic careers