Professor of Biology Chris Gillen jokes that when he assumes his new role of faculty chair in July, he “will sort of be starting as a lame duck.” He’ll be on sabbatical for the 2018-19 academic year, making this a one-year position. But Gillen is a glass half-full kind of guy. The timeline, he said, “lights a little fire, because if there are specific things that I’m excited about accomplishing, I’m going to have to get moving right away.”
Gillen will follow in the footsteps of Professor of Mathematics Carol Schumacher, who has been faculty chair since 2015. The faculty chair serves on the Faculty Executive Committee to deliberate policies, consult and advise on budgets, and advise on tenure-track positions and honorary degrees. The faculty chair also serves as the faculty representative on Kenyon’s Senior Staff.
Gillen cites his time as chair of the Committee on Academic Standards as good preparation for the position, thanks, in part, to the behind-the-scenes view it provided into the inner workings of the College.
“There are probably not a lot of better places in the world to be a faculty member,” Gillen said, “but we do have challenges. To put those challenges into the context of President [Sean] Decatur’s 2020 plan, priority number one is to focus on an integrative, comprehensive experience that prepares students for post-graduate success. That’s a lofty goal.”
Gillen aims to help break down silos and bring faculty members together across disciplines. “Something that I'm interested in,” he said, is “how do we work together as a faculty to accomplish both our own and the institution’s aims?”
“Sometimes around here we are so busy, so hard-working, so earnest and so dedicated to what we are doing that we don’t find or make time for interactions across and outside of our own area,” he added. “There are opportunities around, but I know that I crave more, and other faculty may too.”