USS has dean meet and snack with students

Angelo Gargaro

Freshman exploratory major Deesha Patel talks with Don Williams, new interim dean of the Honors College, at a meet-and-greet held in the Honors College lobby. Williams was hired to take on the position after the retirement of former Dean Larry Andrews. P

Credit: Ron Soltys

The smell of hot coffee and fresh donuts filled Bowman Hall yesterday when the Undergraduate Student Senate presented a pilot program, “Donuts with the Dean.” The program focused on the dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, Jerry Feezel.

Kelly Jernigan, senior triple-major in German translation, international relations and accounting, met Feezel her freshman year when he taught her orientation class. She credited him for much of her success at the university.

“He is very compassionate,” she said of Feezel, who will be leaving once the university completes its search for a new college dean.

Many other students and faculty came out to support the event, which was the first of what will eventually be a campus-wide program. Feezel could be found walking around with a smile, greeting everyone who walked by.

Senior finance major Liz Eckels, also the senator for student relations, helped put together the program.

“There are eight colleges that we are looking to get involved,” Eckels said. “Business, technology and nursing are some of the main ones.”

The following responses are from a one-on-one interview with Feezel.

Q: What are your goals for this year?

A: We are in the process of searching for a dean for the college, and I have made it plain that I am an interim dean and I am not going to be a candidate in the pool. I am hoping to keep things moving in the college and have the college in a very good, strong position when the new dean comes on board.

Q: What is the focus?

A: We are such a big, complex college that it is hard to keep focused. We have 19 departments and hundreds of programs. It is hard to say that we have a focus per se. One of the points of focus, I think, is building our international programs — also, expanding and building our diversity. That’s always a goal of mine.

Q: What from last year needs improved or changed?

A: I think we need to improve salaries. We lost some faculty last year that were good faculty because we couldn’t compete with others. Most of them went to better positions. They were advancements. They had made their mark here and then went on. But still, I think that salaries need to be improved to keep good faculty.

Q: What are you looking forward to most?

A: I could say the end of the year when the new dean comes in (laughing). But actually, I don’t want to rush to that because I still have things I want to get done this year. I am looking forward, though, (to) being able to pass the reigns of this strong, well-functioning college to a new dean. And as my daughter refers to it, “re-retiring.”

Q: What has been the most enjoyable memory as interim dean?

A: My most enjoyable memory, I think, is really, well, two things. First is working with very good, competent staff of the dean’s office — from the advising office across the hall, as we refer to it, and the deans that I work with on a daily basis. Secondly, really, is meeting some of the faculty that I haven’t known well before, and getting to know them.

Q: If you could go back and change one thing during your time as dean, what would it be?

A: One thing would be to say ‘no’ to requests for money. Juggling the budget and juggling the money, which is always limited, is always a problem.

Q: What are your plans after retirement?

A: I really don’t have any that I have firmed up because I want to take some time to relax and enjoy going to Cape Cod, Mass., and spend some more time with our grandchildren.

Q: What will you miss the most?

A: Probably the people in the college offices and in the departments, the department chairs and the faculty.

Q: What advice do you have for students?

A: Make sure you pay attention to your studies and (keep) your status solid and strong. Don’t get in trouble academically. … Keep a handle on that. But also, plan some time for relaxation and for fun, and get involved with Kent State University. Protect your GPA.

Q: Favorite food?

A: I guess now, because I have a home in Cape Cod, I have to say lobster.

Q: Good choice

A: Or wait, let me change that. Actually, it’s clam chowder, because I eat more clam chowder than I do lobster. When I go to the Cape, I try to have clam chowder everyday.

Q: Favorite animal?

A: Our little dog. It’s a Maltese Shitzu mix.

Q: Favorite musical artist?

A: Billy Joel

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “To Kill A Mockingbird”

Q: Favorite color?

A: I don’t know that I have one, but probably red. My wife says I look good in red.

Feezel offered one more suggestion to freshmen before he leaves Kent State.

“Make sure you get off to a good start in all of your classes,” he said. “Don’t try to do everything at once. Be selective. Don’t try to get involved with everything at the same time, but find something to get involved in.”

Contact College of the Arts and Sciences reporter Angelo Gargaro at [email protected].