Madi Rowe, Campus Carrier reporter
Curry Teems, Campus Carrier editor
Berry’s Dean of the Evan’s School for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Tom Kennedy, is stepping down from his position after the 2021 spring semester.
Kennedy has been a part of the Berry community since 2007, and after 14 years as Dean of the Evan’s School, Kennedy has decided to start working his way towards retirement.
Aside from being dean, Kennedy was also responsible for courses in philosophical and Christian ethics. In his time as dean, Kennedy has changed many lives, including faculty and students, and programs in the Evan’s School. One of Kennedy’s biggest accomplishments was the environmental studies program.
Before Kennedy headed the studies program, Berry only offered an environmental science major in Berry’s School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. In 2007, Kennedy started the process of adding a new environmental studies program. The persuasion process of administration and faculty of adding this new major was a six-year long process. An environmental studies minor was added in 2014. Three years into the minor, an environmental studies major wasadded in 2017.
Kennedy pushed for this program to be an interdisciplinary and inter-school program. The environmental studies program spans across both the Evan’s School of Humanities and the Berry School for Mathematical and Natural Sciences. Kennedy feels that studying environmental issues, such as climate change should be looked at through many lenses. He also believes that the solutions to climate change issues are not all scientific.
“What we need are people who are able to look at it from a variety of perspectives,” Kennedy said. “People who have thought about it not only from an economic perspective, but also from a moral perspective, aesthetic perspectives and religious perspectives.”
However, the environmental studies major is not the only thing Kennedy did for the Evan’s School community. Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, Jeffrey Lidke, has always felt like Kennedy cared about things outside of his own life.
“He brings to his work a genuine Christian spirit of family,” Lidke said. “He cares for his faculty in a way that’s really authentic. He has helped create a sense of family across Evans and helped us believe in what we’re doing and that he’s been fighting for us in that regard.”
Associate professor of political science, Michael Bailey, has had a similar experience to Lidke.
“He is able to make us feel that what we do is valuable to the life of ourselves, for our students, for our nation, and for our world and it doesn’t feel like a platitude,” Bailey said. “It feels like a lot is at stake in us doing our job well.”
The committee to search for a new dean has already hired Kennedy’s replacement. The committee, headed by Provost Mary Boyd, went with an outside hire, Gabriel Barreneche. Boyd strived to create a diverse search committee. She involved many voices, including every department in the Evan’s School, a former dean and an outside voice. She is confident that the future dean, Barreneche, will continue with Kennedy’s legacy.
“I felt it was important that all the departments had a voice, so each department identified who should serve in the search committee,” Boyd said. “I think people are thrilled with the new dean who is coming in.”
After Kennedy’s deanship, he plans to teach part-time for two years and then retire. During retirement, Kennedy plans to finish writing his book and spend time with his children and grandchildren in Canada.