Spence to head up CSM

Beginning July 2014, the College of Arts and Sciences will see many new changes: a new building, a new structure and now, a new dean.

With the split of the CAS into the College of Science and Mathematics and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences announced earlier this month, a lot of changes have occurred within Belmont’s structure, including a new arrangement of faculty, a separation of departments and a open position as the head of CSM.

Provost Thomas Burns sees the addition of the new dean to be one of the most advantageous benefits of the separation.

“We thought for all the disciplines, it would be an opportunity for added representation,” said Burns. “Now instead of just having one dean representing all the disciplines in the college of arts and sciences, there will be two, which increases their time with me, their time on the provost council and the opportunity for the dean to do things outside the university to elevate the departments.”

Dr. Bryce Sullivan, the current dean of the CAS, agreed that the addition of the new dean will provide new opportunities for both deans of the CSM and CLASS.

“Dividing the college will also give each of the deans additional time in their schedule to engage more fully in external relations for each college such as fundraising activities to support student scholarship and other college needs. Each dean will also have more time to focus developing and sustaining high quality programs for the colleges,” said Sullivan.

The growth of the CAS proved to be the catalyst for this change as the number of full-time faculty members amounted to 150 while there are currently around 1100 undergrads in the departments included in the college.

Sullivan has also had quite a bit of input in the decision making and sees the change as very positive.

“There are some significant benefits to the reorganization, and more attention can be given to the programs in each of the new colleges,” said Sullivan. “With most of the College of Arts and Sciences moving into the new Wedgewood Academic Building, I believe we are poised for significant growth in majors in all of the programs in the new CLASS and CSM.”

Sullivan’s real change will occur in the number of departments he oversees. Rather than the current 15 in the CAS, he will only “have administrative and leadership responsibilities over 11.”

The other four will be taken over by incoming dean, Dr. Thomas Spence, Loyola University’s vice-provost.

Spence earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Birmingham-Southern College and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt before holding various research positions and then working at Loyola in many roles in multiple departments.

In a recent news release from Belmont, Spence expressed his excitement for joining Belmont’s new college.

“This new college is poised to become a strong attractor for students interested in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields by offering excellent instruction in small classes with meaningful undergraduate research opportunities. I am grateful to be joining Belmont during this exciting time in its history,” said Spence.

Spence was selected through a very detailed search conducted by the School of Sciences.

“Before the search began, we surveyed all of the faculty and staff in the School of Sciences to find out what characteristics they were looking for in their new dean. We also held an open forum to discuss the hire. We had an excellent pool of candidates, interviewed four candidates on campus, and unanimously supported the hiring of Dr. Spence,” said Sullivan.

With the addition of the new dean being one of the small amount of changes occurring throughout the departments, Burns is adamant that this shift is more about opportunity than anything.

“With the opening of the new building, it’s an opportune time to take advantage of highlighting all the programs in the CAS in this way, rather than having a single dean in a single college.”

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