Deans prepare for new schools

Melanie Todd, Staff writer

The new university structure includes new jobs for four full time academic deans.

Each academic college now has its own full time dean who is fully accessible to students and faculty.

“I’m excited to take on a new challenge and work more closely with all my colleagues,” Michael Elnitsky, Ph.D., dean of Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences said.

As with any new job there will be challenges and opportunities. “Meeting the needs of such a large college will be a challenge; however, one I look forward to,” Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., dean of the Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

This year continues to be full of fast changes.

“Our goal is to keep improving and we focus on that. We have master planning in progress,” Raj Parikh, Ph.D., dean of the Walker College of Business and Management said.

The Walker College has many goals for the future. “We hope to get better facilities in the future. We hope to get a trading room to train students to sell and trade stocks,” Parikh said.

The Walker College also has academic goals.

“Our vision is to become a premier college of business where we reflect Mercy values. Our goal is to be in the top 1/3 of all university and college students who take the major field test. We are almost there,” Parikh said.

The Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Science will see higher academic goals as well.

“We believe the Ridge College should be at the cutting- edge of teaching pedagogy and public scholarship. Each department within the new college will be expected to be a center of excellence for these initiatives. Service to the community and the nation is a given; all faculty and staff will be expected to contribute in a meaningful way throughout the year,” James Breckenridge, Ph.D., dean of the Ridge College.

There are challenges the Ridge School will need to overcome.

“As we identify essential tasks, we will develop a way to measure and assess those tasks to achieve excellence,” Breckenridge said.

However, there will not be many changes for the Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences.

“In the short term, we don’t see any dramatic changes at the undergraduate level. Eventually, we may add new programs at the graduate level. Some of our programs are really primed for growth and have untapped potential,” Elnitsky said.

The biggest change will be for the deans themselves. The full-time deans will no longer have the ability to teach classes, as they had in the past.

“That will be the hardest part of the new job, not seeing the students and interacting with them on a day-to-day basis. That was one of the primary things that brought me to Mercyhurst — the ability to connect with the students,” Elnitsky said.

Roberts agrees she will miss her time in the classroom.

“I start every class with a few minutes of informal conversation with the students, finding out how they are doing, catching up with what is new in their worlds and often share something of my own. I do this not so much because it eases our way into the formal instruction, but because I am genuinely interested,” Roberts said.

However, Roberts will not miss all of her teaching duties.

“I can pinpoint what I won’t miss — the grading,” Roberts said.