Murray State moves ahead in Education dean search

Haley Russell
Assistant News Editor

After a year and a half with an interim dean and past unsuccessful interviews under the College of Education’s belt, the search to fill the position begins again.

The University has begun the hiring process for a new dean for the College of Education after Russ Wall retired and Renee Campoy took the interim position.

The hiring committee, made up of 13 faculty, staff, student and community members, decided to open the position to an external as well as internal search and posted a job description as an advertisement a few months ago.

Renae Duncan, associate provost of undergraduate studies and chair of the hiring committee, said the reason the group is larger than usual is because the College of Education reaches a wide range of different programs and people.

Duncan said the contender should have an extensive background in education, but also be a good fit for Murray State.

After the job description was posted, three candidates were chosen: Jeffery Bakken from Illinois State University, Paul Chapman from West Virginia University and David Whaley from Iowa State University.

Each were invited for an on-campus interview process that included meetings with University President Randy Dunn, Provost Bonnie Higginson, faculty and staff members of the College of Education and a community-wide forum.

Duncan said one of the most important attributes the dean of the College of Education should have is the ability to work well with the local school systems to provide programs and both groups of students with learning opportunities.

“A huge chunk of what they do in the College of Education is work with the public schools from sending student teachers out to observe and to teach to just having the relationships and offering services to the school,” she said.

Jack Rose, a past dean of the College of Education, current professor of education and faculty regent, said he believes it is necessary for the new dean to have a logical and strategic plan for the University, it’s students, fellow faculty and staff.

“I think too many times we talk about preparing our students for the future, in a higher education institution, we need to prepare the future for our students, and that’s where that vision comes in,” he said.

Bakken, professor and interim associate dean for research, graduate studies, and international education at Illinois State University, said his decision to apply for the position came from the quality of the University.

“Murray State University is recognized by some outstanding organizations and has some very high rankings,” he said. “Knowing the quality of the University is very important to me.”

Other reasons Bakken sought out deanship at the University was the size of the institution, the student-center approach to learning and the existing programs, centers and services the college offers, he said.

During his time on campus, Bakken said he enjoyed the meetings and interactions he held with adminstratrators, chair and community members.

“So far, I feel the interview process has been very positive,” he said. “I enjoyed my visit to campus and seeing the campus community. All of my interactions were very positive and everyone was very polite and friendly. I could tell they were really interested in finding the right person for the job.”

Obtaining the job, Bakken said, would be both a challenge and an opportunity to further his career.

The University’s reputation was also a selling point to Chapman, interim associate dean of the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University, he said.

“Murray State University has a very good reputation when it comes to the preparation of school leaders,” he said. “I wanted to begin work as a dean of a reputable institution.”

Chapman said his time on campus was one filled with warm regards from administrators.

Chapman said that if he were offered the position, he would become a part of a culture of trust and respect.

“I think it would be exciting to work with like-minded folks when it comes to bringing about positive growth for the College of Education,” he said.

Whaley, associate dean of the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University, said he applied for the dean’s position because he believes it is pertinent that the individual chosen be committed to the student success.

“I applied for the dean’s position because I believe in the dean’s role to inspire the success of others,” he said. “I am convinced that this dean will have a significant opportunity to work closely with faculty, staff and students to co-construct a vision fro the future of the College, while honoring the successes of the past and present.”

Whaley said the offer and acceptance of this job would mean not only becoming a part of the University’s community, but the state’s as well.

“This position would be a wonderful opportunity to become a citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a state I have much admired for its environmental beauty as well as its commitment to education,” he said. “Kentucky has been one of the leading education states as evidenced in its submission of its U.S. Department of Education Race to the top Round 3 funds.”

Higginson said the committee is dedicated in the process of seeking the right fit for the University’s College and that the search has gone well.

“National searches are very complex, but the search for the Dean of the College of Education has been smooth,” Higginson said.

Duncan said the University will make its selection in the coming weeks.