Daily Wildcat Welcome Edition August 2022

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34 • The Daily Wildcat

Wildcat Welcome Edition ● Fall 2022


Meet the new SBS Dean Lori Poloni-Staudinger wrote to the Daily Wildcat about her hope for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, her leadership philosophy and what she wants to accomplish as the new dean. BY SOPHIE APPLIN @sophcarlisle_a

Lori Poloni-Staudinger began in July as the new dean of the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences after serving as the interim dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She replaces former SBS dean John Paul Jones III. Daily Wildcat: As the new dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, your job will likely encompass a lot! Can you give some detail about what the role of a university dean entails? Lori Poloni-Staudinger: A dean is like the CEO of an academic college that sits in the larger university structure. I am responsible for the students, faculty and staff and the educational, budgetary and administrative affairs in SBS. This means I’m responsible for ensuring we are providing a high quality education, we are advancing knowledge generation and we have processes in place to ensure these two goals can be achieved. DW: Our current political climate is tough right now and many people are looking for a reliable (and truthful) leader. How do you plan to build and maintain a diverse and welcoming community at the UA? LPS: My modus operandi is to lead by example and to be as transparent as possible in doing so. Universities are complex places with very smart people who hold differing opinions. At the end of the day, we may not all agree on decisions, but I promise to make them as transparently as possible while providing room for collaboration. I also believe that we need to look to the voices who are not at the table. I will seek out alternative voices and lead in a way that promotes inclusion. DW: You have been very public about your political beliefs online and in public. In light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, how do you think the College of SBS and the university as a whole should move forward to create an environment of inclusion and equity? LPS: While I certainly hold personal opinions related to bodily autonomy, this does not directly influence the way I lead as a dean. That being said, SBS is a majority female-identifying college, so I am highly attuned to how our students may be reacting to the overturning of Roe. I know from my own research that this can lead to feelings of despondency and a decrease in political participation due to lack of a feeling of efficacy about one’s ability to effect change. We know that mental health challenges among students is a growing issue. This decision could exacerbate this issue and I encourage anyone who is feeling despondent to seek university mental health servicesAs the


LORI POLONI-STAUDINGER is the new dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona. She previously served as the interim dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Northern Arizona University.

People College we welcome and encourage ALL people into our college, regardless of your sex, gender identity, race, ethnicity or political orientation. I see it among my responsibilities as your dean to lead in such a way that fosters open and civil exchange of ideas and provides an environment where all of our students feel welcome, can thrive and can learn. SBS should be a leader in diverse practices in the academy and it is my goal to continue building upon this.

students. There are some things we can do to ameliorate this. I would ask all students to encourage your female peers to political participation. If you think someone has strong leadership skills, suggest they get involved as a club leader or with a volunteer organization. We can also work to amplify female voices. If someone has a great idea in class, repeat it, attributing the idea to the speaker. This encourages more voices to take part in important conversations.

DW: Much of your research focuses on women in politics (or lack thereof). What would you like female and female-identifying students to know about your work in that area? LPS: A lot of my recent work focuses on women and political ambition. We know that young children of all gender identities are equally likely to express an interest in politics and being a leader. This starts to diverge in high school and becomes acute in college, with femaleidentifying students saying they are significantly less likely to be interested in serving politically then male-identifying

DW: While the University of Arizona is already a pretty great place to be, there is always room for improvement. What is something you would like to see implemented or changed on campus? LPS: This is a hard one because I have not been in my role long enough to have strong opinions. What I can say is across academia, I would like to see more first-generation students, closing of retention gaps for students from underserved backgrounds and stronger graduation rates for all our students. CONTINUE ON PAGE 35