By Erin Brody
In July, Saint Vincent College announced that Dr. Elaine Bennet—formerly serving as associate professor of anthropology and currently director of the public health minor—would be appointed as the new dean for the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) starting this academic year.
Previous dean of AHSS, Dr. Margaret Watkins, accepted a position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seattle Pacific University in the spring of 2021. SVC then opened applications for the dean of AHSS position to faculty.
Fr. Phillip Kanfush, O.S.B., the interim vice president of academic affairs and academic dean, helped form a search committee to review applicants for the position.
There was a rigorous interview process which included a letter of application, a presentation, and an interview. By late summer, Bennet was accepted, and Kanfush presented the committee’s decision to Fr. Paul Taylor, O.S.B., the president of the college.
According to Bennet, a deanship at Saint Vincent College is a unique position.
“One of the nice things about serving as a dean at Saint Vincent is that the college has a strong commitment to having academic administrators keep a foot in the classroom,” said Bennet. “Deans are expected to teach one course a semester, so I still get to do some teaching!”
As dean, Bennet’s main responsibility is to ensure that administrative processes, like budgeting, hiring and scheduling, function smoothly so that professors can focus on their teaching.
Kanfush is one of the many professors whose job is made easier by Bennet’s appointment to dean of AHSS.
“Dr. Bennett has hit the ground running – literally,” said Kanfush. “She is so amazingly talented that I have not had to be concerned at all about the operations of AHSS.”
Kanfush reported that his workload is lighter because of Bennet’s and her fellow deans’ competence, allowing him to devote his time to “more global issues of academic affairs.”
Overall, Kanfush reported that he is extremely pleased with his deans’ performance.
“I could not be more pleased with the solid start that we have had to the school year and am most grateful to each of the deans for their leadership, guidance, and administrative support,” said Kanfush.