From July until December 2018 I was given an opportunity to serve as the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Director for College Diversity Initiatives. Replacing Dr. Tom Ewing who took a research leave, my tasks included:
- Coordinating the distribution of the $50,000 in internal faculty seed grants among the 16 units within the College, including the Faculty Research Grants Review Committee;
- Organizing and supporting a number of College-level Committees:
- Diversity Committee, developing its newfound mission and vision, representing the College on the University level and interfacing with the University-level Office of Inclusion and Diversity, broadening participation to include staff and student representation, and spearheading new identity initiatives, including the selection of the Chair and the College’s Diversity Fellow;
- Honors & Awards Committee, engagement in the new University-wide nomination processes to promote bottom-up engagement and empowerment, including the Alumni and University Distinguished Professor and the Carnegie Fellow, and,
- Graduate Curriculum Committee, Chair selection, distribution of the graduate curriculum proposals, their review, and processing through the University review process;
- Reviewing the conflict of interest (COI), Internal Review Board (IRB), research training compliance, and external proposal budgets;
- Overseeing College facility needs and assignments, including Instructional Renovations Project (IRP) requests;
- Organizing Pre-Tenure Faculty Mentoring Meeting series and the Honors & Awards information session;
- Representing College in various University-level functions, including periodic Global Research Roundtables, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, University-level diversity and inclusion, and the Destination Areas meetings, and
- Spearheading a new metrics initiative focusing on the scholarship that is currently unaccounted for in the national discourse with particular focus on the arts & design disciplines and a pilot in the School of Performing Arts (SOPA).
Apart from ensuring uninterrupted operations within the Office of the Dean, during the 6-month stint, I introduced a number of improvements to the existing, and several new initiatives:
- Through strategic on-campus partnerships, expanded the $50,000 internal faculty seed grant portfolio to $70,000;
- Organized the Grants 101 workshop designed to introduce new and update existing faculty on the latest internal support infrastructure at their disposal for the pursuit of internal and external grants;
- Worked with the aforesaid Committees to promote bottom-up faculty empowerment and governance;
- Introduced internal Faculty Research Grants reviewer feedback to allow faculty to leverage such feedback for the future pursuit of internal and external funds, and
- Streamlined ways the College facilitates participation across multiple committees and their interfacing with other Colleges and University-level structures. In particular, I proposed a way to streamline communication and access to information and thereby promote transparency, engagement, and the bottom-up governance;
I am a firm believer in the shared governance model. Central to its success are transparency, empowerment, and engagement. The same are also key ingredients that have inspired the aforesaid improvements and additions. Needless to mention, I found this opportunity and the ensuing experience truly inspiring, enlightening, and empowering. Serving as the interim associate dean has not only allowed me to learn more about the administrative structures. It has also helped me build strong collaborative networks and empowered me to serve, even if only briefly, as the change agent in a rapid and exciting transformation of Virginia Tech.
With Dr. Ewing’s pending return in January 2019, I have been invited to serve as the Director for Creativity and Innovation within the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.