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Alisa Gaunder on the Future of SU Academics

In spring 2014, Professor of Political Science Alisa Gaunder was appointed by Southwestern University President Edward Burger as the next Dean of the Faculty, officially taking office at the opening of the 2014-15 academic year.

Recently, Gaunder shared with faculty and staff the goals for her position, which include the promotion of a teacher/scholar model, support of the University’s new governance structure, and building community among faculty and staff. She explains that the goals established for her office are meant to support Southwestern’s vision of improving the quality of our students, promoting faculty scholarship, and providing students with a distinctive education through Paideia.

Expanding upon these goals, Gaunder says that her office is promoting the teacher/scholar model through increased faculty development opportunities. “The teacher/scholar model is based on the idea that there is synergy between one’s teaching and research; that each influence the other,” she says.

“The teacher/scholar model is based on the idea that there is synergy between one’s teaching and research; that each influence the other.”Alisa Gaunder, Dean of Faculty

As part of the mission to find and create opportunities for faculty development, the Dean hosts monthly discussions on a specific subject. Topics such as faculty/student research, external grant opportunities, inclusive pedagogy, teaching the millennial generation, and others have been discussed at recent meetings. Gaunder also says the awards and honors committee is taking every opportunity to recognize faculty achievements.

In the past year, Southwestern’s governance structure has changed as well. Gaunder believes the changes are for the good of everyone, and says, “Shared governance means that the administration works collaboratively with both faculty and staff for the good of the entire community.”

Finally, she says that community building includes recognizing achievements and celebrating accomplishments with the goal of increasing morale among all Southwestern community members.

Gaunder, whose position is a three-year appointment that is renewable for an additional three-year term, says it is meaningful to her that the Dean of the Faculty is actually someone from the faculty. “This position not only enhances my understanding of why and how things work, but it gives me the opportunity to take that information and share it with my faculty colleagues, so that we all have an enhanced understanding.”


Story by Kristina Moore

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