Professor of Mathematics Carol Schumacher jokes that there might have been some arm-twisting involved in getting her to run for the faculty chair position, but she was actually eager to serve. In July, Schumacher takes the reins from Jamie Keller, associate professor of chemistry, who will be wrapping up three years as chair. Joan Slonczewski, the Robert A. Oden, Jr. Professor of Biology, will serve as faculty secretary.
The faculty chair serves on the Faculty Executive Committee, known as EXEC, 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.
“I hope to be a good advocate for the faculty and a good collegiate thinker when sitting on Senior Staff,” said Schumacher, who has been a member of the faculty since 1988. “One of the things that this job calls for is really good organizational skills, being able to set the agenda and keep things moving. That’s something that comes very naturally to me. I think it’s a mathematician thing.”
She recognizes that one of the biggest challenges facing the faculty is one that faces the College as a whole: expressing the relevance of a liberal arts education. “What we find is that alums five or 10 years out can very clearly articulate the value of their Kenyon education,” she said. “Our students immediately off the stage have a lot more trouble articulating that. How can we equip them with the skills in a job interview to explain what they got out of their education that would be of use to employers?”
Schumacher also is looking forward to learning the inner workings of the College. “I think there are many things that happen at the institution that are completely invisible to most faculty members, and without them the institution would flounder,” she said. “I think that it’s really good to be able to bring that insight back to the faculty.”
Outgoing chair Keller agrees that learning the intricacies of Kenyon was a highlight of his tenure on EXEC, as was interacting with the Kenyon Board of Trustees and the Parents Advisory Council. “They are an impressive and multi-talented group who care very much about the College,” he said.
As for words of wisdom for Schumacher, Keller said she doesn’t need any. “She is a wise woman. There may be changes about how we think on the EXEC level with Carol running the show. But I’ll say right now that they will be changes for the good.”