UW names Honors College dean finalists

The University of Wyoming identified three finalists for the new position of Honors College dean.

The final candidates are Stephanie Anderson, professor and head of the recently consolidated School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies; Peter Parolin, associate professor and former head of the Department of English; and Donal Skinner, professor and head of the Department of Zoology and Physiology.

The finalists were selected from a pool of 11 applicants by a search committee of faculty, staff and students, chaired by Steve Barrett, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“We’re very pleased,” he said. “It was a tremendous amount of work by a very dedicated group of people and we’re quite pleased with the results.”

The internal search turned up several high-quality candidates from within the UW community itself and the committee found a wealth of talent among people already on campus, Barrett said.

“The committee had a very, very challenging job to, as we went through the process, to come up with the three finalists,” he said.

The Board of Trustees voted in May to upgrade the Honors Program to a full Honors College, one administrators argued could require students to participate in undergraduate research, internships and other “high-impact practices” that provide for a more well-rounded education.

While the Honors Program was headed by a director, the Honors College will be headed by a dean on equal footing with the deans of other schools and colleges across campus.

Elevating the current honors program will help UW recruit more top-achieving students and compete with other schools on a more level playing field, said Anne Alexander, associate vice president for undergraduate education, in May.

“The vast majority of our competitors have an honors college,” she said. “This is an emerging national trend and we believe — President (Laurie) Nichols believes, Provost (Kate) Miller believes, I believe, a lot of folks believe — we need to look at this as our next step in the honors program.”

The three final candidates will each participate in on-campus interviews, during which they will each give a public presentation.

Parolin’s presentation begins 9 a.m. Tuesday, Skinner’s presentation begins 9 a.m. Wednesday and Anderson’s presentation begins 9:15 a.m. Thursday.

“They’ll meet with various leadership groups on campus,” Barrett said. “They’ll meet with the Foundation, they’ll meet with the student group, but they also have another round of interviews with the search committee.”

The search committee is seeking feedback, following the presentations, from administrators, faculty, staff and students.

“Our job will be to submit to (Miller) a list a strengths and challenges for each of the finalists,” Barrett said. “But ultimately, the provost makes the final choice.”

Miller will bring her final decision to the Board of Trustees for approval.

The Honors College is still developing and the new dean’s first task will be developing curriculum and fundraising for the new college during the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters.

Then, from fall 2018-spring 2020, the college will move through an incubation period as its dean continues to build the program, fundraise and develop college-specific honors tracks, with the goal of making honors minors more readily accessible to a wider range of students.

By fall 2020, UW plans to have the Honors College fully operational.

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