Interim College of Sciences dean talks about returning to campus

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Mary Anne Hanner said she never thought she would have to come back to her job as the dean of Eastern’s College of Sciences. “I loved my job when I was here, but I also liked what I was doing when I was retired.”

Despite this, Hanner agreed to serve as the dean for the rest of the fall semester following the retirement of Harold Ornes on Oct. 31st. She had previously served as the dean of the College of Sciences for 10 years.

Hanner said she had some “catching up to do” since she came in the middle of a semester that was already underway when she took the job. “It is hectic, but the office staff and the department chairs, the provost and Dr. Cross, and everybody’s just been very helpful in getting me up to speed on issues or activities I need to be involved in and that sort of thing,” Hanner said.

Part of the activities Hanner needed to take care of included the processing of the authorization of hiring people, the reappointment of department chairs and as taking care of academic waivers and looking at curriculum.

Hanner said one of the challenges for the position is looking at expenditures, since the state has not passed a budget. “Some procedures have changed since I left four and a half years ago, but many of them are still the same,” Hanner said. “Some of the faces have changed, but I was able to meet some new faculty members who were able to join the department.”

Hanner said the most disappointing thing that has changed was the lack of state support Eastern and other state universities have. “It (has) really been challenging for a decade, but it’s near crisis now,” Hanner said. “When you don’t know what funding you have, it makes it very difficult to plan long term.”

While this is not necessarily an issue for Hanner, who will not be at Eastern permanently, she said it makes things difficult for the university. “It is an issue for the university to plan for initiatives and plan for significant changes for the campus and the curriculum,” Hanner said.

Hanner said one of the first things she did when coming back to Eastern was having hour-long meetings with every department chair so she could get “up to speed” with their issues and what they needed.

“(I was able to) refresh my memory of some of the operations of the department,” Hanner said. “I’ve been looking forward to that.”

Hanner said she was able to talk to Ornes about issues and projects in process for several hours before he left. “I didn’t come in here without any idea about what were the issues or things that were pending,” Hanner said.  “It was very helpful, in the way that he outlined the things that needed to be taken care of pretty quickly.”

Felicia Magee, the office manager of the College of Sciences, was office manager when Ornes was at Eastern. “It was a little unnerving transitioning mid-semester, but I think it was pretty smooth compared to what I was expecting,” Magee said.

Magee said the thought of not having someone in place as the dean on such short notice was unnerving. “I figured it would be hard to get someone in there on that short of notice,” Magee said.

Magee did not know Hanner before she came back to Eastern, but she said Hanner came back knowing everything.

“It’s been a pretty easy transition, getting a new dean in,” Magee said. “They’re different people, so of course they’re going to do thing differently.”

Magee said it was nice to have Hanner come back with prior knowledge of what it was like being the dean. “It would have been a lot harder to bring somebody in not knowing the people or how everything works here in the office,” Magee said.

Hanner said there is a search going on for a replacement interim dean, but she will not be returning for now. Blair Lord the vice president of academic affairs, said he plans to have a permanent interim dean named by January, according to the university newsletter.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]