By Maria Singh
Mary Yu Danico, a former sociology professor for Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, was appointed the new associate dean of the College of Environmental Design.
“I was very pleased and happy but also recognized that there are different sets of challenges working for me,” said Danico. “I never shy away from a challenge, so I’m pretty excited.”
Danico said her former position as a professor will help provide a unique insight to help the college achieve its goals for the year and in the future.
“Whenever you take on any kind of leadership role, you understand the different sociological and cultural factors that impact communities,” said Danico. “I think with a sociological insight, it allows me the opportunity to listen, to engage and, hopefully, build communities. ” In terms of taking on an administrative role, I can see the macro, the micro and the meso influences in an organization. I’m hoping that my different background will serve as a contributor to the college.”
“I see [this position] as an opportunity to be a part of successful implementations of initiative [and] to be a part of seeing students grow, develop and become active alumni,” said Danico.
Though Danico sees herself, in some ways, as a “cheerleader” for the College of Environmental Design, she stated how she misses her students.
“[It’s] really nice to meet all these amazing, talented and engaged students in the ENV because it’s easier for me: really seeing how it’s not really different; the output is different, but the passion and desire to learn, grow and connect is really similar.”
Michael Woo, the dean of the College of Environmental Design, talked about the process of becoming an associate dean and what it entails.
“It was a standard university hiring process,” said Woo. “There was a formal process with the search committee. There were public meetings in the college where students, faculty and staff could ask her questions, and ultimately, I made the selection.”
“The job of the associate dean is extremely demanding. Its a lot of hard work and involves complicated subjects including the college budget, issues relating to buildings, maintenance, safety and equipment. There are a lot of nuts and bolts with practical issues ” the associate dean has to have good people skills in terms of working with lots of different kinds of people who have varying and competing kinds of interests.”
The associate dean is a position that is vital for the dean of a college to effectively carry out responsibilities for an academic year.
“[Having an] effective associate dean frees me up as the dean of the college to be involved with a lot of big picture issues. It frees me up to sketch the vision for the future of the college,” said Woo.
Woo says that Danico’s unique background is a benefit to the college and the students it serves.
“The fact that she comes from outside of the ENV [and] the fact that she’s a sociology professor and comes out of class, gives her a fresh perspective as an outsider. I think there’s value to that in terms of independent perspective on some of the tough choices, which the college has to make.”
Tori Sample, a fourth-year landscape architecture student, and Angeli Penalba, a third-year urban regional planning student, talked about how they would love to see Danico and Woo work to better the college.
“[My] class is very interdisciplinary. I wish that maybe we [would] have more classes like that where you get involved with other majors, such as architecture and landscape. I think it’ll be a better building process because in the real world, where you have a job, you do work with different people, so I think having more classes like these will be beneficial,” said Penalba
“I definitely would love for them to continue interdisciplinary classes because we’re going to have to work together in the future, especially in our studios. We have to work with architects, so it’s good to meet people and understand, as well as talk to people about questions,” said Sample.
Danico has already managed to prepare herself for the position as the associate dean to help students, such as Penalba and Sample, work towards their careers and goals.
Courtesy of Polycentric
Mary Yu Danico
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