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Mary Hardin named interim dean of CAPLA

Darien Bakas
Newly chosen interim Dean of the School of Architecture, Mary Hardin, poses for a photo outside the school on Thursday, April 21. Hardin is filling in after former Dean Janice Cervelli accepted a position as president at St. Mary’s College, Indiana.

The College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture recently named School of Architecture professor Mary Hardin as interim dean of the school. Hardin was the associate dean of academic and faculty affairs for CAPLA prior to her promotion. She has been working in the college since 1997.

Hardin’s appointment as interim dean was prompted after the departure of Dean Janice Cervelli, who accepted a position as the president of St. Mary’s College, Indiana, according to a statement from Andrew Comrie, UA senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

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“I was really honored to be asked to help cover all of the necessary obligations this year while we search for a new permanent dean,” Hardin said. “And I’m hoping I can keep the college going on a real positive course and prepare it to be the best environment possible for a new dean.”

The process of selecting an interim dean starts with the provost meeting different subgroups in the college and faculty to receive input from them. The provost then takes nominations from members of the college and makes his decision.

“Mary had widespread support across the college,” Comrie said. “She’s been an associate dean and people recognize that she has both the breadth and expertise, as well as the kind of leadership qualities, that they thought the college would need.”

As a professor, Hardin implemented a kind of teaching called design-build pedagogy, in which students learn about architectural design by constructing real buildings and parts of buildings, according to Robert Miller, director of the School of Architecture.

Hardin plans to continue teaching while serving as dean. She said the dual tolls may present a challenge, but she knows it is possible with the resources of the college.

“I’ll ask some of my colleagues to help me with my teaching or co-teach with me and I’ll ask others to help me with some of the dean’s duties so that I can balance it all,” Hardin said. “I think with the atmosphere and collegiality we have in CAPLA, it will work out fine.”

Getting to know the college better is what Hardin said she is most looking forward to during her time as dean. This includes getting to know other administrators, understanding the programs of the college on a different level and interacting with students in other disciplines.

Related: The sustainable CAPLA: From curriculum to the building itself, one college sets the bar for sustainability  

As dean, Hardin said she doesn’t plan to make any big changes but will make sure some of the programs are in “good shape” for the new permanent dean. The job of permanent dean is not something Hardin said she wants because of her fondness of teaching. Hardin said she will be “happy to pass the baton on” to a person who wants to dedicate themselves to being the full-time dean.

To start the process of finding a permanent dean, the provost will appoint a search committee during the next few weeks and will start advertising for the position. The advertising and the application period will probably start early fall, according to Comrie.

The process of hiring a new dean can take months. The new dean may not be appointed until January, if the process goes by quickly, or until the end of the school year that semester, depending on how easily the candidate can get here.

Until then, Hardin will carry all of the responsibilities of being dean when her appointment goes into effect June 1.

“She’s very collegial, she’s even-handed, she’s wise, she’s fair,” Miller said. “We couldn’t have a better person step in to this either as an interim or a full-time dean. She’ll be great.”

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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