Schools and Colleges

Whitman dean search committee seeks feedback from students in a forum

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The Martin J. Whitman School of Management students shared characteristics they specifically want to see in the next dean in a forum Wednesday night.

A small group of students from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management on Wednesday evening asked questions and participated in discussion about the search for a new dean in the school’s Milton Room.

The discussion was facilitated by national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller. The open forum came nearly three months after the removal of former dean Kenneth Kavajecz, who was arrested on a misdemeanor of patronizing a person for prostitution in the third degree in September. Kavajecz has a court appearance Dec. 15.

S.P. Raj, a distinguished professor and chair in the marketing department, was named as interim dean in October. Gale Merseth, the vice president of the firm, said the search committee is aiming to select a new dean by the start of the next academic year.

Merseth told attendees the dean search committee plans to draft a position profile that describes the college, as well as what qualities the future dean should possess to succeed at Whitman.

Some students shared characteristics they specifically want to see in the next dean, including being approachable and involved with students, having the ability to take the school to the next level in reputation and initiative and further building the alumni network.

Merseth described current search committee meetings as “animated,” saying that students, faculty and staff at Whitman care about the college and its future.

The search committee will be looking for experienced candidates and a desire to build on what he called the strong foundation of the Whitman school.

“These meetings give us a very fine-grained feel of the place by meeting people here,” Merseth said after the forum. “We hear directly from the people who live and work here, what it’s like here, and what their hopes and aspirations are for the Whitman school.”

Some students expressed dissatisfaction with the small number of students that turned up at the discussion.

Juwan Thompson, a junior entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises major, said he felt more students should have been in attendance for the 30-minute meeting.

“I think the meeting itself was very productive and a lot of students had a lot of great questions. But at the same time, there were only nine of us in the room,” Thompson said. “I feel like it’s on the students to take initiative to come out and voice their opinions and experiences.”

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