Some Quick Thoughts on the Decanal Candidates

FIMS is in the final stages of selecting a new Dean (who will likely start mid-next year I think).  I went to the open sessions for the three remaining decanal candidates over the past couple weeks.  (Someone at the Honest Lawyer last night: “You're one of those people that actually care, right?  You're not just here to buy a piece of paper like the rest of us?”)

Here are the blurbs about each that the department sent out and my very quick thoughts…

David
Finkelstein
(Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh):
Research Professor of Media and Print Culture; Professor and former
Head,
Department of Media and Communication; and former Acting Head
(Associate Dean)
of School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication.

Strength: Probably the best match on paper for the various departments that make up FIMS
Weakness: Seemed to have a (long) answer for every question he was asked in his session rather than admitting “I don't know” which each of the other candidates did at times.

Michele Hilmes (University
of
Wisconsin-Madison): Professor, Media and Cultural Studies, and former
Associate
Chair, Department of Communication Arts; Director, Wisconsin Centre for
Film
and Theater Research.

Strength: They all talked about it I liked how she phrased her vision of where she'd like to see this faculty go in the future the best with talk of practical matters such as the changing role of information in today's tech and media-centered society. 
Weakness: Maybe seemed a bit too casual and I'm not sure but might've been the least experienced?

Tom Carmichael (The
University of
Western Ontario): Associate Professor, Department of English; Associate
Dean
(Research), Faculty of Arts and Humanities; and former Acting Director,
Centre
for the Study of Theory and Criticism.

Strength: Has been at Western for 17 years so he knows how this place runs, who the people are and the politics involved in both of those items. 
Weakness: I found that he constantly used a lot of management-type buzzwords which put my own personal shield up.  And as he admitted, faculties often look for a “shiny new Dean” from elsewhere when they go through a process like this and he definitely isn't that. 

I'm looking at it from an MLIS student perspective so I don't really know exactly what faculty, staff or PhD students are looking for in comparison.  But if it was my choice, I'd pick Michele Hilmes as the new FIMS Dean as she just felt the most “right” with what she was saying and how she carried herself.

On a slightly related topic, one or two students raised a concern with me about the lack of LIS background in any of the remaining candidates.  I've talked to a few people about this (students and others) and surprisingly (?), many responded that it might be good for the LIS side if we *don't* have a Dean closely connected to our area.  They thought that when the Dean is an LIS person, they can easily fall into a trap of overcompensating by not giving us *any* favourable treatment and that having a new Dean with experience in some other area might actually benefit us.  Interesting theory anyhow…

On another slightly related note, Mike M. was at the last two sessions with me.  After hearing the final candidate speak, Mike suggested that FIMS should also take this “opportunity for change” to come up with a new name.  I've thought on it and would like to suggest “WHIZ – We Have Information Zazz!” as the new name for the faculty.  Mike also felt people should stop saying “G-R-C” for the Grad Resource Centtre and instead, pronounce it “Gerk”.  Again, I agree wholeheartedly. 
I can just hear the January 2007 students now:

“WHIZ has an excellent gerk!” image

Comments 7

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    WHIZ? Really??? What immediately springs to mind: Cheese Whiz, Gee Whiz, and “I need to take a …” – you get my drift.
    How about WHIP, as in “We Have Information Professionals”? That way we could all make far better innuendoes than the ones above, as in “I've been whipped” or “the program has whipped me.” We could all be Cool Whip. Plus, it comes with a built-in theme song thanks to Devo: WHIP it good!
    Just a (silly) thought. 🙂

    Posted 08 Dec 2006 at 11:21 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Since I work in the GRC would that make me a “gerkin”.
    Sorry couldn't resist.

    Posted 09 Dec 2006 at 4:00 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I think you should make collectible cards for each of the candidates, outlining their strengths and (potential) weaknesses as you've presented them here, with a system of rating each, and then devise a games system by which any number of students can participate, playing against one another to determine the new Dean.
    – geekily yours, j (little j)

    Posted 09 Dec 2006 at 4:53 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    No worries – that's perfect!

    Posted 09 Dec 2006 at 6:37 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    I thought of that. But I'm also the guy who appreciates that the Spirit of Librarianship initials are “SoL”!
    You're right – WHIP is better than my suggestion though, especially for all the double meanings you could implement.

    Posted 09 Dec 2006 at 6:39 pm
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    Actually that's what the people on the selection committee should do!
    (Funny story – I had a couple classmates who wanted to nominate me as a joke candidate when the call first went out. But you needed to get three signatures and they could only get two people willing to attest to my decanal capabilities!)
    Too bad – I think I would've been the “cool Dean”.

    Posted 09 Dec 2006 at 6:41 pm
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    Ewww. Cheese Whiz and Gherkins.
    Sounds like a pregnant woman's craving! (with no offense meant to Shea)

    Posted 09 Dec 2006 at 7:28 pm

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