Steven Brint, current vice provost for the University of California at Riverside, interviewed with students from the Undergraduate Studies Council on Monday as one of five finalists for the position of dean of the school.
The school has been without a permanent dean since the summer of last year, when former dean Paul Woodruff resigned. Lawrence Abraham is currently serving as interim dean while the school searches for a replacement. Brint is the fourth candidate to interview for the position.
Brint spoke with UT Austin faculty early Monday, and is slated to talk with UGS staff on Tuesday. At his meeting with students, who will work with faculty and staff to present their recommendation for dean to President William Powers Jr., Brint said he wants the School of Undergraduate Studies to be an efficient part of the University that helps students find their academic passion.
“I have had some of the most inspiring students I have worked with … start off in a field that was not meant for them,” Brint said. “There’s something out there at which they can do wonderful things, and it’s the job of our school to help them discover that.”
Brint, who has published multiple books on the field of higher education, said when he thought of Undergraduate Studies, he thought of a student he worked with as associate dean of UC Riverside’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, who did poorly in science but has a blossoming career in another field.
“If we feel too driven to get to an endpoint and reach a destination, it’s not the best use of college years for everybody,” Brint said. “We have to value … people who want to explore and want to find out what’s best for them.”
When asked how he planned to improve the school’s ability to do this, Brint said he would have to actually be dean for a while to answer that properly, but he thought his experience as vice provost could help.
“The first part of the dean is to find out what’s happening now,” Brint said. “I think it would be irresponsible to come in and say I’m going to do X, Y and Z.”
Stephanie Reyna, current president of the Undergraduate Studies Council, said she did not want to give her thoughts on Brint, because she did not want to accidentally give an advantage to their last interviewee. However, she said all five candidates are very qualified.
Junior Natalie Arevalo, who was the president of the Undergraduate Studies Council last year and who sat on the committee that helped select finalists, said students look for candidates who have past experience and a vision for the School of Undergraduate Studies.
“I think that most of them understand the plight of UGS students,” Arevalo said. “It’s not always easy [for students] to come into a college as large as this and not know what they’re going into.”
Printed on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 as: UGS interviews dean hopeful