Institutional relationships

When I was a newly minted assistant professor at Grinnell, at first I didn’t know many people beyond my department and the other new faculty. There were the Dean, the division chairs, and the HR representative I met during my interview. I’m sure I met a librarian and some folks from  Student Affairs during New Faculty Orientation. But there were whole offices I would only gradually become aware of during the nine years that I spent there.

Starting a new program at Whitman means getting to know these folks very quickly. I’ve sought some out, and some have sought me out. This blog post will address my relationships at Whitman thus far.

I’m housed in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. (I understand the “Computer Science” part was added just this winter.) Although I’ve gotten varying advice about how long computer science should remain part of the Math Department, we all seem to agree that this relationship will not last forever in its current form. Computer science will eventually be its own department. Department Chair Pat Keef is deliberately including me, but it’s not clear how much interest I have in math business, or math in CS.

In the meantime, the development of the CS program is governed by the CS Steering Committee, currently composed of

  • Sharon Alker (English, Division II)
  • Barry Balof (Math, Division III)
  • Amy Blau (Library)
  • Sarah Hurlburt (French, Division II)
  • Michelle Janning (Sociology, Division I)
  • Fred Moore (Physics, Division III)
  • Albert Schueller (Math, Division III)
  • David Sprunger (Technology Services)

and myself. Albert chaired the committee until I took over this summer; he has been my chief advisor in working with this committee and with the administration. The search committee comprises a subset of the faculty of the steering committee.

As a new faculty member at Grinnell, I don’t think I spoke with President Russell Osgood after my interview (or before, for that matter). I can think of only a few conversations with President Raynard Kington, who joined Grinnell in 2010. By contrast, Whitman’s most recent president, George Bridges, was very involved in my recruitment. We met a few times just to talk during my visits this spring. The new president, Kathleen Murray, was hired just before I interviewed at Whitman, and I talked with her on the phone briefly while I was deciding whether to accept the position. I stopped by her office to say hello not long after we both arrived on campus, and we’ve run into each other a few times. It will be interesting to see what our relationship becomes.

Interim Provost and Dean of the College Pat Spencer hired me. Since arriving on campus, my interactions with him have mostly concerned the CS Steering Committee, resource allocation, and the tenure-track searches. We’ve also met once to clarify a point in my Memorandum of Understanding. Because of the complexity of my MOU and the atypical funding for computer science, I interact more with his staff than I would otherwise. In particular, I’m frequently in touch with Ruth Ladderud, who is handling my business expenses. I also worked with Susan Bennett on launching the search, and we’ll work again later on travel arrangements.

Also in the Dean’s Office, I met Associate Dean for Faculty Development Lisa Perfetti during my interview, at my own request. I met Associate Dean for Intercultural Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Kazi Joshua by chance at the spring faculty and staff picnic, which I happened to be in town for; he invited my husband and me to lunch after we arrived in Walla Walla. I have worked with both on ensuring that the CS search is inclusive of diverse candidates.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is unusually situated. Despite being part of Division III, the Sciences, we are physically housed in a building mostly occupied by Division II, the Humanities. This means I am blessed with an extra division chair. This summer, Jim Russo replaced Mark Beck as chair of Division III. Jim will serve on the CS search committee. Nicole Simek is chair of Division II; we met over lunch and a tour of the building this spring. She has helped me with various building-related issues. I met with Jim and Nicole together to discuss long-term space needs and desires for computer science. To help me understand plans for CS space, Albert also introduced me to Treasurer and CFO Peter Harvey.

Because I am housed in Division III and with Division II, I am also blessed with extra support staff. I haven’t yet met Patti Moss, who staffs the Hall of Science office; she says she is looking forward to meeting me. By contrast, I’m seeing Richele Loney and Katina Henderson, who staff the Olin Building office, at least once a day on average. Katina started only a few weeks before I did, and Richele was on her summer hiatus when I arrived. Katina gave me my keys and supplies, showed me my mailbox, helped me find furniture and get my office painted, and helped keep me in the loop on the ongoing construction. These interactions also led me to meet several Physical Plant staff, including Construction Project Manager Jeff Donahue, Academic Custodial Supervisor Kevin Wright, Maintenance Supervisor Randy Coleman, and Painter Oscar Waggoner.

I first met VP for Development & College Relations John Bogley in the context of the CS Working Group.  Comprised of alumni and friends of the college, the group that has led fundraising for CS. John was the first person I met with during my first visit after accepting the position; he gave me some of the history and context for the CS initiative. We will be in touch soon regarding the next working group meeting. On the same trip, I met Alumni Director Nancy Mitchell to how alumni relations works at Whitman and what my role might be. She asked me to talk about computer science at the Fall Reunion this September.

I also met Director of Communications Michelle Ma and Media Relations Strategist Gina Ohnstad to give feedback on a draft media plan for Whitman computer science. (We discovered that Gina would be my backyard neighbor for this year, and we’ve gotten together a few times outside of work.) The media plan made apparent and urgent the need to update the web site for the Department of Mathematics, so I got to meet Director of Digital Communications Kristen Healy. She and I later met for coffee to discuss our respective roles. She also set up this blog for me.

The spring break trip also broadened my interactions with WCTS (Whitman College Technology Services). I had met Director of Instructional and Learning Technology David Sprunger during the CS Symposium last summer, and CIO Dan Terrio during my interview. Dan worked with me and Albert to define the CS & Math Technical Specialist position and to launch the search; David headed the search committee. During the spring break trip, Albert and I met with lots of folks to decide on lab configuration and architecture, including Director of Enterprise Technology Mike Osterman, Director of Technology Infrastructure Kevin Kelly, Information Security Officer Brian Griffith, Developer/Sysadmin Kyle Singer, Manager of Instructional Multimedia Services Jon Loney, and Austun Ables, Instructional and Learning Technologistfor Division III.

Also on that trip, I met Director of Admission Adam Miller, representing the start of the student pipeline. He told me there was plenty of prospective student demand for computer science, and asked for some “sound bites” for his admissions officers. Later, I worked with Chris Tarvin to develop a Computer Science profile to be mailed to prospective students.

While I haven’t yet interacted with the Registrar herself, Cassandra Keithley in the Registrar’s Office reached out to me this spring about transfer credit in computer science. Claire Knoche, Curriculum & Registration Analyst, requested learning goals for computer science, which appear in the catalog. I have interacted a bit with Gaby Aguilar, Registration Services Assistant, around classroom assignments.

Juli Dunn, Associate Dean of Students, mistakenly included me in the list of pre-major advisers. First-year faculty do not advise first-year students; I imagine I confounded her system by coming in at the associate rank. Once we straightened that out, she invited me for a one-hour crash course in advising at Whitman College, which was very informative.

I met Susan Holme, Director of Off-Campus Study, first at the aforementioned faculty-staff picnic and again on a tour of Memorial Hall. She explained the application process to me. I will be working with Susan to get AIT-Budapest onto the list of approved OCS programs.

College Librarian Dalia Corkum invited me to breakfast during one of my spring visits to discuss library resources for computer science. I was very pleased to learn Whitman had already subscribed to the ACM Digital Library, which is the essential resource for computer science. She also encouraged me to meet Kun Lin, Systems and Application Librarian, who is now serving as the official library liaison for computer science.

Last but far from least is the wonderful Student Engagement Center. During my interview, I met I also met Community Service Coordinator Abby Juhasz, because she is also relatively new to Whitman and I was interested in learning how students interface with the community. During my spring break visit to Whitman, I met Director of Business Engagement Kim Rolfe to discuss possible speakers and alumni connections. Kim invited me to a “CS/SEC Confab” last week, during which I also met Assistant Director of Career Development Gayle Townsend and Associate Dean for Student Engagement Noah Leavitt. I learned about the role and evolution of the SEC; Gayle and I made plans for her to visit CS 270 to talk about careers in computer science. Just this morning, I met with Noah Leavitt to talk about possible community partners for student projects in my HCI class.

Undoubtedly, there are more campus stakeholders I have yet to meet. I look forward to seeing how these relationships evolve along with the CS program.

My next post will be about lab design.

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