By Erin O’Brien
Sharon Hilles, who served as associate dean for the past five
years, will serve as interim dean the College of Letters, Arts, and
Social Sciences until a permanent dean is in place.
Dr. Carol Richardson stepped down as dean in June to return to
teaching. She will join the music department in winter quarter,
after taking fall quarter off.
Provost Marten denBoer appointed Hilles as interim dean based on
her previous experience in C.L.A.S.S.
“She had done an excellent job as associate dean and I knew she
was thoughtful and very much a people person,” said denBoer.
“I was confident that she would do a good job as interim dean
and I’m glad to say that in fact she is doing a great job. Hilles
sees her new position as interim dean as an exciting
“I think it’s a chance to make a difference and that’s kind of
scary,” said Hilles. “But I think it also is really an incredible
opportunity and I’m really excited about that.”
In addition to serving as associate dean for the past five
years, Hilles has served as a professor in the English and Foreign
Languages Department since 1990.
As interim dean, Hilles enjoys meeting with faculty in CLASS she
either had not met before or had not interacted much with
“[The department chairs] just care so much about their students
and so much about Cal Poly,” said Hilles. “They’re just a dream to
work with. I’m just always amazed at how incredibly competent they
are, and they’re just wonderful to work with, and you can make all
sorts of differences.”
Hilles greatly enjoys learning about all the different colleges
and studies in the college. She said the different disciplines such
as anthropology and psychology can make an individual a much more
well rounded person.
One of Hilles favorite subjects in C.L.A.S.S. is English. She
greatly enjoyed learning the history of the English language.
Within her college, Hilles highly encourages students to learn a
foreign language. If there is anything she could give to people it
would be the gift of a second language.
DenBoer said that the strong traditions of the college will stay
the same no matter the dean.
Although Richardson stepped down as dean in June, she will not
be returning to teaching until winter quarter.
The time off between her position as dean and her return to the
classroom is typical of the transition when deans step down, said
“Typically what we do when a dean steps down from a position
[is] we give them one quarter of leave to allow them to sort of
recharge their batteries because being a dean is of course a very
graining kind of activity, and also to give them time to prepare
for going back to the classroom,” said denBoer.
The first step in the search for a new dean is for the academic
senate to appoint a search committee.
“We’re looking at, before we have a new dean actually in place,
[is] typically a whole year,” said denBoer. “We’re optimistic that
we can have a new dean in place sometime in the summer of
“We expect the search committee will be formed in fall,” said
Shanthi Srinivas, associate vice president of academic affairs.
The process of hiring a new dean once the search committee has
been appointed is anywhere from three to six months.
The search committee, along with den Boer, will conduct
interviews with the semi-finalists over telephone. Skype has been
used in recent interviews for deans.
Three to five finalists are normally recommended to President
Ortiz out of the pool of semi-finalists.
The finalists are then invited to on-campus interviews which
will include an interview with the full search committee and an
Ultimately, Ortiz has the final say in who will be appointed as
Candidates for a position as dean may have responsibilities at
other colleges or universities. For that reason, the transition of
a new dean to their position once appointed could take several
“Time is important in this,” said denBoer. “We have to give time
for people to think about the position, we have to have time for
review, we have to have time to make the transition. Trying to
speed it up too much is typically not a good thing.”
Erin O’Brien / The Poly Post
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