Asa Daniels, Campus Carrier staff writer
Alan Hughes, professor and chair of psychology, will be taking over as interim dean of the Charter School of Education and Human Sciences, starting July 1, 2020. He will be filling the position of current dean, Jacqueline McDowell, professor of education, who has held it for 22 years, the longest of any deanship at Berry College. The job entails the oversight of the teacher education, psychology, kinesiology, and nursing departments, along with the family studies and applied behavior analysis minors at Berry.
Hughes will be holding the interim position for two years until a national search can be conducted by the school. It allows Berry not only more time to figure out what they want in the next dean but to provide focus on the natural sciences’ current search for a dean this year.
Although it is a temporary position, the job will still require leadership and commitment to coordinate the departments together, McDowell said.
“The challenge will be bringing all the departments together, keeping the momentum going for all the really strong programs that the Charter School already has,” McDowell said.
McDowell believes that Hughes has what it takes to fulfill the requirements of the job.
“I think his area of expertise in institutional effectiveness and his background as a department chair will be very helpful,” McDowell said. “I think over the next two years, he will be very helpful in having [the school] decide what direction all these programs should take.”
David Elmer, associate professor of kinesiology, also believes that Hughes will fit well as the school’s dean.
“He’s familiar with our department, and I think he understands what we need to be successful, ways that we can collaborate, and I think he just really understands us well enough to support us in pretty helpful ways,” Elmer said.
Hughes also hopes that his knowledge can help guide the school’s ideas during the interim in such a way that helps them work and collaborate more.
“If you look at the research we do, if you look at the community outreach – all of the initiatives that we do, I think there’s lots of ground for unity,” Hughes said.
The biggest challenge for himself, Hughes said, is going to be catching up to speed with the requirements, expectations, and needs of the nursing and teacher education programs at the school. The two programs require accreditation acceptance from entities outside of Berry, so their specifications are a specific point of interest for Hughes to ensure these programs maintain their present skill and ability.
However, even with the forthcoming challenges, Hughes feels he is ready for the job. He has progressed throughout his time at Berry, being a department chair for the last four years while also engrossing himself in high-level committees throughout the last eight years. Hughes hopes to use his administrative knowledge to help lead as dean.
“I like helping people solve problems; I like tinkering with the nuts and bolts of how things work,” Hughes said. “It seems to be something that I enjoy doing.”
For the time being, McDowell will remain as dean, helping Hughes learn the ropes. Most recently, Hughes sat in on the nursing program’s accreditation to help familiarize himself with the program’s needs and expectations. In the spring, McDowell and Hughes will be doing some final work towards teaching Hughes the role and tasks of his job. Regardless, Hughes is ready to begin a new chapter of his career and the Charter School.
“I don’t have any worry – it’s exciting. I like challenges,” Hughes said.