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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Dean of Architecture to assume the presidency of St. Mary’s College

Tom Price
UA Architecture Dean Janice Cervelli sits for a picture on Thursday, March 3. Dean Cervelli will be leaving the UA to assume the presidency of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.

The UA College of Architecture Dean Janice Cervelli has been selected as the president-elect of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.

Cervelli said she was born and raised a block away from Saint Mary’s, so this move is a homecoming for her.

“This is the biggest honor of my life; it’s a great school,” Cervelli said. “At the same time, it’s bittersweet because I love Tucson, I love the UA and I love this college.”

Cervelli, who has worked at the UA for almost eight years, said the great faculty and students have helped foster opportunities, making the college the largest it has been in its history.

She said the biggest challenge in her time here has been handling the reductions in state support and figuring out how they can still provide quality programs to students at an affordable cost.

“My proudest accomplishments are the great faculty I’ve been able to help attract, the great students and being able to be a part of this community and helping build what we have today,” Cervelli said. “The work and quality speaks for itself.”

Cervelli is looking forward to combining her professional and spiritual life at the Catholic institution, but she also has plans to grow programs and keep the quality of education intact while still facing budget cuts.

She starts June 1 on a listening tour around the college to hear everyone’s hopes and concerns.

“I wasn’t looking for this—I was perfectly happy as dean here, and looked forward to many more years,” Cervelli said.

When she was contacted by a search firm mid-semester last year, Cervelli said she hadn’t even known there was an opening and when she thought deeply about it, she realized she was being called to do this.

“I’m at this stage in my career where I have one last meaningful leadership role to play, and I wanted it to be as meaningful as possible,” she said.

She added that she’s not worried about who will become the new dean because the College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture has great leadership in place and she will work with or help the interim dean.

“This college is in great shape,” Cervelli said. “I wouldn’t leave this place in a lurch.”

Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Andrew Comrie explained the process of hiring a new dean or person for a senior leadership position.

“As soon as we realize that we’re going to have to look for new leadership in a college we usually … try to find who’s going to serve as the interim dean,” Comrie said. “We want to do a full search for the permanent dean.”

Finding a permanent dean is a fairly broad and time consuming process that can take months or even a year, according to Comrie. He added that the interim dean is usually someone internal or a department head because they already have knowledge and familiarity with the college. As soon as they find out someone is leaving he meets with the leaders of the college to get their opinion and discuss the format and process of how they will be finding a new dean.

Since the college is fairly small, Comrie had this meeting last Friday with the whole college to explain the format and listen to opinions.

Comrie said it may be as soon as the end of March or the beginning of April when he selects the interim dean to take over in May, or it could take longer. The next step is forming a search committee, which they try to make diverse by including voices from senior leadership, students, faculty and staff with a neutral search chair from a different department.

Potential committee members are nominated to Comrie and once the committee is formed, they develop the job advertisement and may even hire a professional search firm to help find the best candidates.

Once applications are received, the search will eventually be narrowed to typically two to four candidates. Once the field is smaller, the committee will hold public interviews and candidates will speak with different groups and people around campus, so everyone has the chance to size them up and give their opinion, Comrie said.

The search committee will then make a recommendation with the pros and cons of the final candidates, and then a final decision will be made.

Comrie said the person chosen not only has to leave their current job, but they will most likely also need to move. Depending on if they have a family or kids, the time frame they need to move could take a few months or even a year, but they try to make it as short as possible.

“It seems slow from the outside but that’s because you don’t just say … you’re going to be the next person,” Comrie said. “This is a nationally competitive search for a high profile college, and you want the very best people who can be recruited that year to be considered as a potential leader.”

Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.

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