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Meet the candidates for the CAS dean search

The candidates for the new dean of CAS are Renée Baernstein (top left), Melissa Gregory (top right), Matthew Smith (bottom left) and David Hemmer (bottom right).
The candidates for the new dean of CAS are Renée Baernstein (top left), Melissa Gregory (top right), Matthew Smith (bottom left) and David Hemmer (bottom right).

The College of Arts and Science (CAS) at Miami University began searching for a new dean in October 2023. The position is now narrowed down to four candidates: Renée Baernstein, Melissa Gregory, Matthew Smith and David Hemmer.

The search committee, in collaboration with Storbeck Search and Associates, is chaired by Jenny Darroch and has six faculty members, a graduate student and a representative from the Alumni Advisory Board.

CAS is currently the largest division at Miami, serving more than 8,000 students. The current dean, Chris Makaroff, has served for more than eight years and has been praised by other faculty who’ve said they’ve been “very lucky to have him.”

Beginning Feb. 5, the university will host open forums for all of the candidates over the next three weeks.

Renée Baernstein

Baernstein currently serves as the senior associate dean of CAS and has held leadership positions in the division since 2015.

She joined Miami’s history department in 1993, teaching world and European history. Since then, she has overseen the CAS curriculum, the future renovation of Bachelor Hall, and the development of partnerships, institutional grants and promotions within the department.

She got her Ph.D. at Harvard University, focusing on Renaissance Italy and the roles of women and marriage in politics during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Open forums for Baernstein will take place Monday, Feb. 5, 4-5 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 6, 9-10 a.m. in Kreger Hall, room 319.

Melissa Gregory

Gregory is the interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) at the University of Toledo (UT) and a professor in English.

During her time in leadership, undergraduate class size has increased by 7% and student participation in undergraduate research has increased by 58%. UT has also achieved an all-time high in external funding for 2022-2023, and the university has accrued a national endowment to create a minor in health humanities under her leadership.

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Gregory is an advocate for a liberal arts and science education and has a record of supporting the humanities, social sciences and interdisciplinary programs. She has received many national fellowships and awards for her work promoting the humanities and other fields of study.

Open forums for Gregory will take place Monday, Feb. 12, 4-5 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 13, 9-10 a.m. in Kreger Hall, room 319.

Matthew Smith

Smith is a professor of communication and current dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences at Radford University in Virginia. During his tenure at Radford, he has advised the creation of several minors, including African American studies, health humanities, digital history, legal studies and religious-cultural literacy. 

Smith has also provided more learning experiences to his students by creating the Social Media Analytics and Research Technology (SMART) Lab and the Center for Digital Archives and History. He has also supported student travel through the Student Travel and Research Support (STARS) initiative.

Before working at Radford, Smith was tenured at Wittenberg University as chair and professor of Communication, developing co-curricular student programs such as the Communication and Business Leadership Experience (CABLE).

Having a strong interest in comics, he is co-curator of Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, a traveling museum, and serves as co-editor of the Routledge Advances in Comics Series.

Open forums for Smith will take place Monday, Feb. 19, 4-5 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 20, 9-10 a.m. in Kreger Hall, room 319.

David Hemmer

Hemmer has been the dean of the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) at Michigan Technological University (MTU) since 2018. During his time there, he led the creation of five new degree programs, increased CSA enrollment by 6% — compared to MTU’s overall enrollment decreasing by 2% — and increased external research awards by 60% between fiscal years 2020-2022.

Before his current role, he was the mathematics department chair at State University of New York at Buffalo. While there, he advocated for more women in the department — only two out of 30 faculty members were women — and designed an online program that brought more than one million dollars in tuition revenue.

Open forums for Hemmer will take place Monday, Feb. 26, 4-5 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 27, 9-10 a.m. in Kreger Hall, room 319.