Campus / News / January 16, 2013

Dean (search) list down to 3 as candidates visit


Dr. Bonnie D. Irwin, Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities of Eastern Illinois University, speaks to students on Thursday, Jan. 10 in Ferris Lounge during an open forum. She described past students who have helped shape her career at Eastern Illinois University and how, through “storytelling,” people can learn more about each other and create stronger communities. (Casey Mendoza/TKS)

The first of the three candidates for dean of the college, Dr. Bonnie Irwin, spoke to a group of about 15 students at an open forum last Thursday, stressing her desire to work at a place like Knox and her commitment to being involved with student research.

Irwin, who has served as dean of the College of Arts & Humanities at Eastern Illinois University since 2010, is one of the final candidates identified as a result of a national search. The new dean will replace Lawrence Breitborde as dean and vice president for academic affairs after he steps down at the end of this year.

“Throughout all of my time at EIU, I have been trying to create opportunities for students that are closer to the kinds of opportunities that you have here,” Irwin said, mentioning study abroad and research grant initiatives she champions in her current position and did so previously as dean of the honors college at EIU.

Irwin, also a professor of English at EIU, shared some anecdotes about helping with student research, even while serving in an administrative capacity.

“I’d like to continue [working on student research] here, because it keeps me grounded,” she said. “I could spend days looking at budgets and contracts and all manner of things, which I handle well but aren’t really exciting.”

Irwin noted that there would be a learning curve coming from a larger public university to a small, residential liberal arts college, but she imagined that her first 100 days at Knox would entail watching and listening to understand its nuances.

Breitborde plans to take one year off after stepping down as dean, and he will later return to teach anthropology.


Dr. Laura Behling speaks to a forum of Knox students on Jan. 15 in Ferris Lounge. She described her work at Butler University and her interest in working at Knox. As part of the discussion, Behling also listened to the concerns of the students ranging from professor accountability to the organization of the different departments at Knox. (Casey Mendoza/TKS)

The second of three candidates for dean of the college, Dr. Laura Behling, spoke to a group of about 20 students at an open forum Tuesday, emphasizing her past experience with faculty development and her desire to return to an institution much like her first: a small, residential liberal arts college.

Behling, the associate provost for faculty affairs at Butler University in Indianapolis, is one of the final candidates identified as a result of a national search. The new dean will replace Lawrence Breitborde as dean and vice president for academic affairs after he steps down at the end of this year.

When she served in administrative positions at Gustavus Adolphus College, Behling said, much of her work was geared toward faculty development.

“Even though they have been in school forever, faculty still need training and new ideas, so that’s what I would really work to do (at Knox),” Behling said.

In addition to her Ph.D. in literature, Behling holds a degree from the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Especially with regard to new technology being used in education, Behling stressed that new “pedagogies” need to be developed to make use of that technology in classrooms, even college classrooms. But she did acknowledge that technology has limitations and cannot always emulate a face-to-face classroom discussion.

Behling also discussed a program much like the new Horizons showcase of student work at Knox, which she helped to start at Gustavus Adolphus.

Moreover, Behling praised the liberal arts environment at Knox, the educational style which she experienced at Kalamazoo and Gustavus Adolphus and to which she would like to return.


Irwin and Behling are the first of three candidates to visit campus. The third, Ohio Wesleyan University’s Interim Provost Charles Stinemetz, will have a similar student forum Thursday, Jan. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in Ferris Lounge. One of the three will be chosen to replace current Dean Lawrence Breitborde when he steps down after spring term. The national search was conducted by the Washington D.C. firm Isaacson, Miller.

Tags:  bonnie irwin dean search laura behling

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Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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