Dean Madges Reflects on Past Seven Years

BillMadges_ReflectionsAs I reflect upon my seven years as Dean, I am grateful for many, many things—having been given the opportunity to lead and serve the College, collaborating with faculty who are thoroughly dedicated to Jesuit values and liberal education, and working with a dedicated team of associate deans and administrative professionals in support of our educational mission.

What most attracted me to come to Saint Joseph’s in 2006 were the aspirations of the University, as articulated in Plan 2010: a Jesuit University with aspirations for even greater academic excellence—encapsulated in the phrase, to be recognized as “the preeminent Catholic comprehensive university in the Northeast”; a plan, in the space of about six years, to hire 52 faculty into lines that did not previously exist; a strong sense of community; and consistent affirmation, from multiple sources, of the positive and collaborative relationship between faculty and administration.  I came knowing that the University was already engaged in the process of a comprehensive curricular review.   With first-hand experience of core curriculum revision at Xavier University and with knowledge gained from participation in three national core curriculum conferences, I was excited about the prospect of engaging in the curricular revision at SJU.

These past seven years have certainly been exciting, filled with both success and challenge.  Despite the challenges—especially the financial challenge in the wake of the economic recession that began in my second year at SJU—the successes have been many.

The significant achievements in the College during the past seven years generally have been the result of effective collaboration with faculty, staff, and administration.  In some endeavors, I have had the leading role—for example, the revitalization of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations; raising the interreligious profile of the University by bringing the exhibit I co-created, A Blessing to One Another, to the Kimmel Center; the establishment of an Advisory Board for the College; the creation of the Advising Support Center; the inauguration of Notes from the Barbelin Quad (the college quarterly newsletter); and advocacy for the development of a performing arts center.  In other endeavors, I have had a major contributing role—for example, the development of the Asian Studies Program, the creation of overarching learning goals for the GEP, the development of a new document on the University’s mission—Living the Mission—that profiles faculty from diverse religious backgrounds and their contributions to our mission, and the promotion of the Institute for Environmental Stewardship.

Not surprisingly, most accomplishments have been the work of multiple hands:

•    Implementation of the General Education Program
•    Establishment of the McNulty Scholars Program
•    Creation of 10 new undergraduate majors and 13 undergraduate minors
•    Creation of six new master’s programs
•    Introduction of online programs
•    Fifty-two percent increase in graduate headcount and 57% increase in graduate credit hours over the past five years
•    Restructuring the College, which grew from 16 to 21 departments
•    Transformation of the CAS Today magazine into a more engaging publication, Intellect, which recently earned a Bronze “Cuppie” Award from the College and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania
•    Renovations of Merion Hall (which became the new home of the English, Education, and Sociology Departments), Connelly Hall (three GEP science labs), the Nicoletti Music Studio, the Science Center, Boland Hall, and Fine Arts East.

Dean Madges stands with new faculty hires

Dean Madges stands with new faculty hires

Some of my most satisfying work has been working with the faculty:

•    Interviewing candidates and then hiring them for the College.  Over the past seven years, I have hired 70 tenure-track faculty, a number that represents more than one-third of the total of tenure-track or tenured faculty in the College.
•    Supporting the professional development of the faculty, providing funding for their academic travel as well as evaluating and guiding 84 faculty through the tenure and promotion process
•    Collaborating with chairpersons and program directors to strengthen current curricula and to innovate with new academic programs

I have enjoyed working with colleagues in the Development Office to secure funding for the College’s needs and to build the Advisory Board, which provides annual financial support for the College as well as good counsel and internship opportunities for our students.

Throughout all of these opportunities and challenges, I have been sustained by my belief in and commitment to liberal education in the Jesuit mode—an education that is not so much about building a resumé, but rather is about forming and building insightful, creative, articulate, ethically responsible people who are prepared for a life well-lived, not just for themselves, but for all whom their lives touch.

As I leave the Dean’s Office and prepare to return to the classroom, I am excited about the prospect of engaging directly with students in the exploration of life’s big questions and the opportunity to immerse myself again in scholarship and the adventure of ideas.

To all of my colleagues and co-workers these past seven years, I say “thank you.”  It has been my privilege and honor to serve as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.