Eastern hosted the second dean candidate for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on Thursday.
Barbara Bonnekessen, is the department chair for the Department of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.
The university is public and has approximately 7,400 students enrolled.
Bonnekessen said she saw a lot of promise in the Eastern with enrollment.
“You have something that very few universities have; you have an increase in student enrollment and still after now being on campus for four hours, nobody has shared that secret with me yet, so maybe I’ll just have to work for you guys to figure out your secret; it’s absolutely astonishing,” Bonkessen said.
She also acknowledged that the university is not necessarily where many would like to see it.
“I know you aren’t where you want to be; there’s still a lot of work to be done, but you have a positive trend, which I think also translates in higher faculty morale,” Bonkessen said.
Bonnekessen said she sensed liveliness from administration at Eastern as well.
“The energy I’ve seen from your provost and president has been absolutely appealing. Both are cheerleaders for this university, and they’re so very proud of (the faculty) and maybe they don’t tell you that every day, or maybe they do, I don’t know, but they certainly told me,” Bonnekessen said. “That is certainly something that is very encouraging and very inviting, and I very much like this place so far.”
Bonnekessen stressed her opinions on the importance of faculty in universities
“There are three primary populations in a university: administrators, faculty and students. When one of them is missing, things change a bit. If you only have administrators and faculty but no students, you have a research institute and it works … if you only have faculty and students, you have an old-fashioned medieval university … if you only have administrators and students and you have no faculty, what do you have? You have nothing,” Bonnekessen said.
“Students come to the university because of the faculty. They don’t come for a rock-climbing wall, and maybe in some schools they come for the American football team or the basketball team but they really come to work with the faculty, that’s the heart and soul of the university and the faculty has to be taken care of.”
Bonnekessen also discussed her position on being a faculty advocate.
“I’m very eager to recruit and retain students…but I also want to be concerned with faculty recruitment and faculty retention because if I can stabilize the faculty that’s going to make my students happier, that’s going to my alums happier, my donors happier et cetera, et cetera so faculty support is very important,” Bonnekessen said.
The next dean candidate for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is Stuart Benkert and he will be hosted on Jan. 28.
The university will host the next candidate for the College of Education on Jan 27. and the candidate will be Laretta Henderson.
Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]