By Seán McGlone & Armando Machado – Editor-in-Chief & 1851 Staff
New deans pictured (top left – bottom right) Anne Bernays Trevenen, Cris Haverty, Lori Rosenthal, Melissa Varao, and Aaron Toffler. Photos by Seán McGlone, Michael Bueno and Lori Rosenthal
After months of meetings, discussions and debate, the college introduced five new schools, and associate deans this semester. The newly appointed associate deans are: Melissa Varao, Aaron Toffler, Anne Trevenen, Chris Haverty, and Lori Rosenthal. The deans head the schools of: Business; Communication & the Arts; Fashion; Health Sciences; and Social Sciences, Humanities & Education.
Curriculum has not changed, but having a separate school for one’s major is a fresh aspect of Lasell academics. “It’s really cool that we now have an official school of fashion,” said freshman Taylor Isabelle, a fashion merchandising major. Isabelle hopes the School of Fashion will focus more on promoting “slow-fashion,” which is the use of sustainable materials. She referenced Patagonia as a successful brand that uses environmentally friendly materials.
The School of Fashion now houses the three concentrations: design, merchandising, and communication and promotion. Associate Dean Trevenen says she hopes the majors housed under one school will lead to more possibilities for students, as well as allow each concentration to develop an individual identity.
Trevenen believes the introduction of the associate deans will give students an additional advisor inside their major. “My guess is with the addition of program directors, [students] are actually going to find themselves with a lot more attention. The associate deans are in a position to advocate for them with more authority, so I think that’s really good,” she said.
Senior exercise science major Maizie McCarthy hopes the School of Health Sciences will “bring more attention to [her] major and attract members from the health industry to connect with Lasell.” McCarthy believes there will be an increase in applicants with the addition of the five schools.
Recruitment of new students is one of Associate Dean Toffler’s goals going forward. “The biggest goal is recruitment and retention of students and I think you do that by having all of the faculty in the school focus on what we provide to the students,” he said. Toffler says aspects like creating a supportive learning environment, developing new partnerships with external organizations, and getting learning opportunities in front of students are the best way to retain students.
Some students have discussed concerns with the academic restructure. When junior marketing major Katy O’Connor found out about the five schools, she was surprised that some programs were dropped. One being environmental studies, which is O’Connor’s minor. “It kind of freaked me out…I wasn’t really sure what would happen,” she said.
Current students will not be forced out of any majors or minors and will be able to complete their original programs. “It’s definitely going to be hard because I know a lot of people are transferring from my class,” said freshman Michael Smith, an environmental studies major. “It’s going to be difficult figuring out my schedule.”
Associate Dean Rosenthal hopes the restructuring of academics will allow the faculty in her school to stay better connected with alumni. “When we were discussing as a school the things we would like to improve, we all wanted to stay in better contact with our alumni,” said Rosenthal in an email.
Rosenthal says she would like to see more students email their former professors more once they graduate, or to continue to update their LinkedIn pages. “It’s like reading a novel and someone ripped the last few chapters out of the book,” she said. “We would love to hear from all of our students once in a while as they pursue their goals.”
For Haverty, one of the hardest parts of becoming an associate dean is having to step away from teaching as much, but says she’s excited to continue teaching one course a semester. “I’ve always said the classroom is like my sanctuary…I love the classroom. I think I’m an educator at heart. Being in the classroom and having the chance to really show my passion for my discipline as an athletic trainer, and working one-on-one with students in small groups, is a really exciting thing,” she said.
Associate Dean Varao says she is excited to hear students’ feelings on the academic restructuring. “I hear faculty voices and staff voices all the time, and I hear student voices when I’m in front of them in a classroom,” she said. “Otherwise I don’t get to hear it that often or collectively so I’m really looking forward to hearing that feedback from students.”
The School of Business is contemplating putting together a group of core classes for all students in the school to take, according to Varao. She says staff members are also contemplating having a School of Business day, the same way the communication and hospitality majors have their own day each year.