Completed Search: Dean College of Liberal Arts, Norwich University

Dean College of Liberal Arts: Implications of a recently completed search assignment

“We recently completed a search for a new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for Norwich University. The search went very smoothly. The SVP Academic Affairs was clear from the outset; he wanted the new Dean to be leader with an ability to understand the strategic direction of the University and bring a fresh outlook to the position. Norwich is in the unique position of being an independent university with a long tradition of preparing citizen soldiers to serve their Nation of origin. The University was founded in 1819, with this educational goal in mind, and ever since it has demonstrated real vision and leadership in helping to prepare its graduates for positions of responsibility in government, business and professional careers such as engineering, nursing among many others.

Liberal Arts is always considered to be the backbone of a higher education curriculum because it teaches the value of critical thinking and independent analysis. Make no mistake, any college graduate with a major in political science, English, history or foreign language has to work very hard to meet course work requirements, satisfy his or her professors and earn a respectable GPA in the process. The best universities have always wanted their graduates to be able to be gainfully employed once they receive their degree in one of the fields of liberal arts. I recall my English professor at Boston College telling me as a first semester senior; “we know that most of you will go on to careers in business; we know that you will be well prepared to research and analyze almost any business proposition using the skills you have learned from us here at BC”. This was reassuring to hear. Of course, way back in 1974 the career office at BC was nothing like it is today—but I would remiss in saying that even back then they were able to suggest ways in which I could make connections with potential employers and sure enough, I did get hired upon graduation and have gone on to a long and satisfying business career.

The stakes are higher now. The competition for jobs is fierce. The companies need to derive return from their investment in every person they hire.
Universities that are innovative and not hide bound in their approach to teaching the liberal arts will not only thrive in the immediate sense but position themselves for long term positive development if they pay attention to the need to link the design of the curriculum with potential future application by graduates. Linking the teaching of English or history with a study and discussion of business case studies in seminar settings where a cross section of university disciplines and students are included, such as science, math, engineering and business, will help liberal arts students better understand how their analytic skills can indeed be usefully and creatively applied in a professional setting. For me, a program like this would have helped reduce “culture shock” that occurred after I was hired and actually started work in my first job. Yes, they liked my intellectual capacity and talent for analysis but I lacked context and as result time was wasted at the beginning of my career simply adjusting the demands of an entry level job and corporate culture in general.

Liberal Arts Deans are in the unique position to work across academic boundaries to help pave the way for their graduates to add value for their future employers. Addressing this challenge in an innovative and creative manner will help prepare grads for future employment and ease the anxiety of parents who have sacrificed greatly to send their progeny off to college in hopes of preparing them for a fully independent life. Innovative and bold thinking usually leads to successful outcomes and who better than a Dean of the College of Liberal Arts to champion this approach for the benefit of their students and the future of the University?

Congratulations to Dean, Andrea Talentino, PhD., the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Norwich University.”

Warm wishes,

“Craftsmanship, Innovation, Quality”

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About Keith Kulper

Keith D. Kulper is the president and founder of KULPER & COMPANY, LLC an executive search consulting firm working in the area of senior level leadership for academia and corporate innovation. We are strong advocates of nurturing the linkage between academic investigation/research and corporate innovation/full commercialization of new product solutions. We specialize in attracting proven leaders who can effectively drive transformational change. The firm operates an Advisory Board that meets annually to bring together leaders from academia and corporate innovation to help drive continuous improvement of our professional practice. We are also an investor in early stage companies. We take pride in supporting the growth and development of business and engineering schools at leading universities throughout the United States.

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