After a competitive, national search, Dr. Brenda Kelly has been appointed to fill the role of Provost and Dean of Gustavus.
The position of Provost and Dean of the College opened following the 2015-16 academic year, when Dr. Mark Braun stepped down to return to the faculty.
Since then, Kelly had served as Provost and Dean on an interim basis.
Prior to that, she was part of the Gustavus faculty as a professor of Biology and Chemistry from 2002-2015.
She taught courses in biochemistry, introductory chemistry and organic chemistry, with a particular focus on the structure and function of enzymes and how they interact within the science of cooking.
She served as Chair of the Chemistry department from 2011-2015, as Director of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program during the 2013-14 academic year, and as Associate Provost and Dean of Sciences and Education during the 2015-16 academic year.
As Provost and Dean of Gustavus, Kelly will serve as chief academic officer of the College.
In addition to the academic departments, other entities under the Provost and Dean’s realm of oversight include the Center for Academic Resources and Enhancement, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the Center for International and Cultural Education, the Hillstrom Museum of Art, and the Linnaeus Arboretum.
They are also responsible for overseeing the Office of the Registrar, the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation, the Nobel Conference, and the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning.
Kelly said that her experience as a member of the faculty would inform how she approaches her new position.
“I’ve worked with students in the classroom, I’ve worked with students in the laboratory, and so I have a connection with students and appreciate the student centeredness of Gustavus,” Kelly said.
“As we think about a strategic vision for the college as a whole, to maintain a focus on the student centeredness of the place is an important part.”
The most immediate issue Kelly faces is the implementation of the new Challenge Curriculum, approved by the faculty on April 25.
The new curriculum framework is a key part of Gustavus’ Strategic ACTs initiative, which seeks to strengthen, diversify and modernize Gustavus, moving the college firmly into the 21st century. It also plans on staying true to the values of a liberal arts education, something that is distinctive to Gustavus in particular.
Associate Provost and Dean of Sciences and Education Julie Bartley said Kelly is well qualified to help implement the goals of the Strategic ACTs initiative, and has expertise in that field.
“She’s been in the provost’s office for three years, and she’s been involved with all of the aspects of the Strategic Plan that involve faculty and academics, and several others as well,” Bartley said. “She has a really strategic mind, she is able to look at the numbers for a budget but also see the people behind the numbers, and connect those pieces together.”
As Provost and Dean of the College, Kelly will be in charge of helping faculty members and departments to transition to the new educational curriculum, and allocating resources to help ensure that the curriculum will provide an education that is as cutting edge as possible.
“I’m excited to talk with students and to hear student feedback about the academic program, and work with both faculty and students,” Kelly said.
Associate Provost and Dean of Arts and Humanities Micah Maatman said he looks forward to working with Kelly to help lead bring to fruition the growth and modernization envisioned under the Strategic ACTs initiative.
“I think she understands the mission exceedingly well,” Maatman said.
“She really understands the faculty perspective, she really understands the the student perspective and that that combined with her leadership perspective, I think she understands the college as a whole really well.”
Associate Provost and Dean of General Education & Assessment Mary McHugh is also enthusiastic about the future of the College’s academic programming under. Kelly’s leadership.
“[Kelly] is highly intelligent, fair, positive, full of energy, and she is supportive of those around her,” McHugh said.
“It’s very exciting that she will be able to continue progress on the initiatives that she began while an Interim Provost, because she brings initiatives to fruition.”