School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences hires new dean

Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier deputy news editor

On Feb. 20, Alice Suroviec, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was announced as the next dean of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Suroviec will be taking on July 1 over from current dean Gary Breton, who has served as the dean for the last six years. 

Suroviec was chosen by a search committee comprised of representatives from each of the six departments in the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, as well as Victor Bissonnette, associate professor of psychology, who served as an external faculty member for the search. The committee was chaired by Joyce Heames, dean of the Campbell School of Business. 

The search for the new dean began in early fall, when an application was posted on eleven different job search sites. According to Heames, the search was international, and the committee focused on attracting as diverse of an applicant pool as possible. 

“We take very seriously the process of hiring a new dean,” Heames said. “It’s an international search, the position was put in eleven different sites. We wanted to get as diverse of candidates as we possibly could, so it was posted on sites that primarily looked at female scientists, Latino scientists, African American scientists, as well as your standard, highly recognized hiring sites.” 

After going through the applications, the search committee narrowed the group down to eight candidates for online interviews. From these candidates, the committee chose four finalists to bring to campus for site visits. Following these site visits, the committee reconvened to choose the hire. As Heames explained, Suroviec’s hire, especially given the rigorous application process, is a strong indication of her abilities and qualifications. 

“The margin of difference between those candidates is always so small, there might be a little different strength here or there,” Suroviec said. “So, to have Dr. Alice Suroviec chosen, she was definitely vetted against top candidates. For her to come out on top says a lot about Berry, and a lot about her as a researcher and as an administrator.” 

Currently, Suroviec is in the process of transitioning into her new position. According to her, the transition process is made easier due to the fact that she is already integrated into campus life. With her previous departmental connections, she believes she will be able to move into the role more seamlessly. 

“Because I am an internal candidate, the transition process is going to be pretty smooth,” Suroviec said. “I already know and have worked with the faculty. I’ll be meeting with Dean Breton for the rest of the semester to learn more about how he works. Then, when I fill the role, I should be more prepared.” 

While Suroviec is not yet the dean, she has plans for her time in the role. She hopes to focus on creating a central goal for the school, in how it approaches education and the development of students. First, she wants to create a mission statement for the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. 

“Berry has a mission statement, and I want to create a mission statement for our school and for our students,” Suroviec said. “I will reach out to faculty and others in the school to talk about who we are, who we want to be, what gaps we see and where we might see ourselves in 10 years. I want to make sure we have a vision for how to help students during their time in our programs.” 

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