Stella Deen, accomplished writer and professor, was appointed the interim provost of SUNY New Paltz following the announced retirement of current provost, Philip Mauceri.
Deen explained that during her experience teaching at the college, she has seen the potential for positive change in the academic departments to work with more mutual efficiency. Deen said she is concerned about the quality of collaboration between faculty, students and administration.
“Faculty do not benefit enough from one another’s expertise because they do not have many opportunities to collaborate as teachers. For a long time I have wanted to see faculty explore a topic or a question by co-teaching across their disciplines,” Deen said. “Students want to make connections across different disciplines; I think it increases their understanding of each discipline and reinforces their sense of the relevance of what they are learning.”
Deen has qualifications and the necessary experience from previously held positions that will enhance her ability to oversee the complex workings within departments and potential issues that may arise among students, faculty and administration. Though the similar jobs of interim associate provost and dean of the graduate school from 2010-2011 have prepared her for a more expansive executive role, she said that her time focusing on teaching has humbled her perspective about the classroom.
“My teaching and previous administrative positions have prepared me well. Essentially, I have had the opportunity to understand the college from different perspectives,” Deen said. “I love teaching and the opportunity it affords to get to students individually. Having a concrete sense of students’ backgrounds and their daily lives provide an important perspective on questions about how to improve the quality of their education.”
“Deen brings to this position a strong scholarly and teaching background as well as significant administrative experience,” Mauceri said in regard to her abilities. “I am confident that she will work during this interim period to ensure that our students continue to have a solid foundation in the liberal arts.”
Deen also served as the chair at the Liberal Education Ad-Hoc Committee from 2011 to 2012. According to Deen, this work influenced her beliefs about how students learn best. The increasing applicant pool of students seeking opportunity for after-graduation employment and overall success benefits from her favorable understanding of students, Deen said.
During her development as a teacher and administrator, Deen noticed how the college has changed and improved.
“Probably the biggest improvement I have seen is increased and effective communication across divisions and between the college and interested communities beyond it,” Deen said. “Much more than in the past, administrators seek faculty perspectives and ideas; and conversely, faculty have a much better appreciation for the work of staff and administrators.”
Deen shared her own keenness for learning within the new position.
“I am sure when I turn in this direction I’ll start out as a follower rather than a leader,” Deen said.