Dean moves on from College

After six years of service to the College as both an English professor and the dean of the school of Culture and Society, Susan Albertine will be departing from the College in July of this year to serve as the first senior director of Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) State Initiatives.

“(LEAP) is a very, very comprehensive and ambitious project that intends to model and support and instigate thinking about a new kind of undergraduate education for this century,” Albertine said.

She described the project as inclusive of more traditional learning objectives – including arts and sciences – in addition to being geared toward improving global awareness, civic responsibility and information literacy.

“The hope is that we strengthen, dramatically strengthen, undergraduate education for an educated citizenry and the future of democracy,” Albertine said. “The free market has come to stand for democracy. Democracy is more than that.”

According to Albertine, LEAP directly strengthens democracy by addressing the disparity “between people who have money and privilege who are getting great undergraduate educations and people who are coming from low-income families, often minority families, whose opportunities are not as great.”

From a national level, Albertine will be working to ensure continuity throughout public education, from kindergarten to the college level, in the California, Oregon and Wisconsin state education systems.

“I’m going to be talking to business leaders as well as higher-ed leaders and campus leaders about ways that they’re changing the curriculum,” she said, paying attention to the “needs and experience of students who have been underserved in higher education.”

In transitioning to her new job, Albertine will be departing from the College after having administered the transformation of its curriculum to a learning-center model, which focuses on student performance rather than an “implicit set of objectives.”

“I’ve learned on the ground what it means and how, effectively, to work with curriculum in a way that the faculty feel passionate about,” Albertine said. She added that she will promote “economically responsible change” on a larger, national scale.

In looking back on her time with the College, Albertine said she was proud of “the creative success that we’ve had in Culture and Society.”

“We’re very open-minded about being interdisciplinary, and we took some chances doing that. And that’s hard, because you’re going against the traditional power of the discipline, so you have to be creative to be boundary crossing,” she said.

According to Jo Carney, English department chairperson, Albertine will be missed by both the College as a whole and particularly the School of Culture and Society.

“Not only is she an energetic and efficient manager, she is a leader with vision who consistently supports student and faculty initiatives,” Carney said.

Among those initiatives, Carney said Albertine has supported the Visiting Writers Series, Close Reading Series, the Walt Whitman Symposium of 2006, the upcoming Thorton Wilder Conference and student honor society research and travel. Albertine has also supported faculty research and teaching.

According to Matthew Golden, executive director of Public Affairs, the search process to find a new dean is still in its planning stages.

“Dean Albertine will be here for a little while, and the president, Interim Provost (Elizabeth) Paul and our new executive vice president/provost will be working with the leadership of the School of Culture and Society to map out a plan for both the interim and permanent deanship,” Golden said via e-mail.

“Change is good and I would love to see a creative new leader with new vision, new ideas and a deep commitment to the students and faculty here,” Albertine said. “You want continuity but you also want new vision, and that’s what I hope.”