“The first thing that I will bring to the dean’s position is not my ego, but my desire to serve the college, to serve my colleagues, and promote their interests as best I can,” Jeffrey Ayres, political science department chair and environmental studies program director said in response to being chosen as the new Dean of St. Michael’s College to replace Jeffrey Trumbower. “I am grateful and very excited for the opportunity,” Ayres added. According to Karen Talentino, Vice President for Academic Affairs, the faculty has a policy manual called Faculty Regulations that lays out the process for the selection of a new dean once the position becomes available. The faculty then selects a five-person search committee, in which they, along with Talentino drafted a job description. Talentino decided the new dean would be an internal candidate, meaning that this position is solely visible to internal users – users with an “smcvt.edu” email, in which they could access the job site to view the application – excluding applications outside of the college. The committee then reviewed the three candidates’ applications, which included a cover letter and resume. According to Talentino, the three candidates: Susan Ouellette, professor of history, Nathaniel Lew, professor of fine arts, and Jeffrey Ayres, who presented their goals if selected as dean at the open forum April 4, all share much in common in terms of their strengths. She added, “It is a very importation position, and it was difficult in that it took a long time. I wanted to make a good decision based on all the right criteria.” “[The Dean of the College] is an important position that indirectly has a very big impact on students,” President Neuhauser remarked. Talentino concluded that Ayres “had some good strong administrative experience
both in his department and other academic programs.” Ayres has also been involved in curriculum revision, and the hiring and mentoring of junior faculty members. “I [plan] to maintain academic excellence by continuing to be innovative in our program development, which includes some of the work I have done in the last couple of years, including our new international relations major and our just now newly reformed environmental studies program,” Ayres stated, who will formally replace Jeffrey Trumbower as Dean of the College July 1. According to Talentinto, “[Ayres] brings a lot of very strong qualities from the classroom, from his scholarship, and from his leadership.” Ayres, a graduate of the University of Virginia, who later received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994, has carried with him a strong appreciation for the liberal arts education. Although majoring in government and minoring in French, Ayres “sampled the liberal studies smorgasbord of courses.” “I never once had a scholarship, never had a fellowship,” Ayres added, who has spent his last 16 years at St. Michael’s. “The only way I made it through graduate school is [by teaching] every semester as a teacher’s assistant (TA) and as a lecturer,” he explained. “I learned how quickly I enjoyed teaching at an early time in my graduate career,” Ayres stated, whose passion for teaching continues to grow. As Dean of the College, Ayres aspires to keep a student-centered approach by “being as transparent and inclusive as [he] can possibly be,” he remarked. His main goal is to maintain this governance style as St. Michael’s faces significant challenges in years to come. “I think it’s going to be a time of transition for the college,” emphasized
Neuhauser, as well as Talentino. Some of these challenges include an increased focus on the number of students who are enrolling at the college. “One of the greatest challenges would be to continue to help maintain our academic excellence, which is what I think we have here as easily atop the 100 national liberal arts colleges,” said Ayres. As Trumbower concludes his last month as Dean of the College, he will remain as Dean until June 30, as he will be working with Ayres. “Trumbower has been an outstanding dean,” Ayres mentioned, adding: “He and I have a very good collegial working relationship. I know he is going to be a great mentor to me and I will be shadowing him over the next few months.” “When I combine my real love for the liberal arts as an undergraduate that I’ve carried through to my own career, to my professional work as a graduate student that was heavily student-centered, I think [St. Michael’s] is a natural place for me,” Ayres added.