Russell obtains dean position


Sydney Boaz

Darcy Russell, dean of the college of arts and sciences taught for 30 years before beginning this position.

On July 1, Darcy Russell began her new position as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. This decision was made after a rigorous interview process that began with eight candidates.

Russell said it felt odd to be interviewed by people who she considers to be her friends.

“The faculty weren’t easy on me even though I had been here a long time,” she said.

Waiting was the most stressful time period, according to Russell. But she said it was worthwhile once the job was offered to her.

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has a variety of responsibilities, most of which are centered on the faculty and the students of the university. Russell said she views her job as an advocate for the faculty and someone who has the faculty’s back when conflict arises. However, she also wants to hold the faculty to high standards and help members who are not having success in the classroom.

“Because my job is about the faculty, it is completely about the students. My job is to make sure the student experience at Baker University is top notch, and I take that responsibility very seriously,” she said.

In order to prepare for this role, Russell attended a national conference over the summer for new deans.

“There were some really experienced deans there to help us understand various aspects of what we do, as well as finance officers and legal counsel,” she said.

Russell said she will miss her time in the classroom very much, but that departure will be short lived.

“I miss the excitement of the first day, the energy the students bring and the opportunity to share my love for science with young people. I will be teaching every semester starting next semester — going forward it will be Quest and non-lab science classes.”

Students can come to Russell with a variety of issues including problems with professors, moving final exams, ideas they would like to discuss with someone in order to see if they can be supported by the university and invitations to the meetings and events of on-campus organizations.

Russell plans to make changes to the way in which Baker functions so that the undergraduate experiences goes from good to great. These changes center around the concept of maximizing the university’s small budget

Alongside the team of deans, Russell is working to increase retention rates through authenticity and student support services. She also plans to engage alumni by attending the events that they most often attend. She said she wants to garner more support and thank those who have contributed to the university.

“We need to think about math tutors and writing instruction and speech center instruction. The Baker Experience course has been added in the first semester to really give the students a good bounce into college,” she said. “The admissions staff should tell Baker’s story authentically so that students know what they’re getting when they come to Baker.”

Russell’s goal for students by the time of graduation is for them to be able to relate to others and behave selflessly. She hopes to promote this through curriculum, programs and campus activities.

“My goal is for Baker to produce students who will act in the best interest of others,” she said.