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David Hemmer talks low-enrolled degrees and retention at final CAS dean forum

During the final open forum, Hemmer talks about why he would make a good College of Arts and Science dean.
During the final open forum, Hemmer talks about why he would make a good College of Arts and Science dean.

David Hemmer held the final open forum for Miami University’s search for a new College of Arts and Science (CAS) dean on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Hemmer began by discussing why Miami would be a good fit for him and segued into the leadership philosophies he acquired from his previous tenure as the dean of College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech University (MTU).

“The faculty, to me, are the most important asset of the college and the institution,” Hemmer said. “So we need to set things up so faculty can succeed, so they get good mentoring, so they have opportunities to travel [and] to have their research supported and listened to.”

Hemmer also talked about his accomplishments as a dean and how he could bring those successes to Miami. His list included an increase in retention rates and diversity, equity and inclusion classes for STEM professors. Hemmer also helped design a faculty equity query tool, called AFEQT.

“This is for deans and chairs to look up and say, ‘Well, are we giving women the same size startup as men,’ and these things are really tough to analyze because, maybe we hired more women in visual arts who don't get a startup or we hired a computational chemist in the lab,” Hemmer said.

Following his highlights from MTU, Hemmer outlined the challenges facing higher education today. In his speech, he included how fewer students and parents put value in college, how tuition is increasing, revenues are decreasing and how there is a need to market degrees differently. However, he said there are positives amidst the challenges.

“[Miami has] amazing undergrads who do really well in leadership positions when they graduate, great retention [and a] strong national reputation,” Hemmer said.

He then broached the topic of restructuring Miami’s low enrolled degrees. He said when making decisions, he would know about the total cost before anything was decided, and he would put less emphasis on first jobs out of college and more on mid-career success. He also mentioned a budget model that supports collaboration and interdisciplinary degrees.

Following his plans, the floor opened to questions from the 20 attendees, who asked Hemmer about a variety of topics including grants, funding and building consensus.

Ellen Yezierski, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, asked Hemmer how he would support and reward teaching excellence as CAS dean. Hemmer said expectations must be clear to everyone that teaching is valued and accounts for promotions. So the expectation would be that everyone does an exceptional job in the classroom.

“At Michigan Tech we have something called the dean's teaching showcase, where every single week in our newsletter we celebrate someone for the innovations they're doing in the classroom,” Hemmer said.

The director of the animal facilities Jazmin Hembree said she went to Hemmer’s forum to make sure the facilities were being represented and that Hemmer was familiar with them.

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“I think he has good experiences [and] has some good ideas,” Hembree said. “I think we have good candidates, so it's kind of a tough race here.”