School of Arts & Sciences Appoints New Dean

This past Friday, The Cynic sat down with Eleanor Miller, the new dean of arts and sciences, for an interview. Dean Miller formerly held the position of Associate Dean for the Social Sciences and Special Counsel to the Dean at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

She was also the president of the Midwest Sociological Society, 2004-2005. Dean Miller has written several publications including the book Street Woman in which she documents female criminality. She had these answers to offer.


How do you like UVM so far?

I have only been here for three weeks but so far I like UVM a lot. People in the administration and faculty have been warm and generous. So far I have been to two departments but over the next few weeks I plan to see everyone.

How does UVM compare to Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has 27,000 people. So I have gone from a campus that is enormous to a campus that, relatively speaking, is quite small. The University of Wisconsin is similar to UVM in that it is a couple of blocks from a lake. Although their lake is a “real” great lake, Champlain is actually much prettier with the view of the mountains.

My previous university is more diverse in many ways but I am pleasantly surprised how diverse UVM is. I myself taught courses that had four-hundred people in them but as far as I know no course in letters and science has four-hundred people, there is not even a room that we have access to that you could put that many students.

In The View, you are quoted saying that you want to broaden and deepen college programs. What do you mean by this and how do you plan to do it?

Well I don’t have a fully articulated plan sketched out because I have been here too short a time but I can say that I am interested in exploring the addition of dance. We already have studio art, music, theatre and art history but we don’t have dance.

In fact Vermont is a place where good dance has emerged and I would like to develop a dance program that has some intellectual heft to it. I am not interested in just offering more PE credit dance courses but rather classes that focus on choreography and develop appreciation for dance aesthetic. In addition I believe UVM could benefit from a program that brings different area studies together and examines them in a wider global context. I have been talking to the dean of the Business School about starting a program in global management and this program would require four years of language and one semester of an internship at a business. This would offer degrees in global business and global resource management.

What do you think of the rapid expansion at UVM in regards to construction, enrollment and the large debt recently assumed?

It is enormously exciting and the reason why I came here. I see a plan that is impressive and a dynamic president with a vision. However I am concerned that we do not expand too fast when we don’t have the infrastructure in place to maintain the quality UVM has always had.

I want to make sure classes do not get too large, student-faculty contact remains strong and that there is enough housing for students. Next year we will continue to expand but not at the rate we did this year.

How do you think the expansion will affect the overall reputation of the school?

It will enhance the reputation of the school and the value of the degree. There was a period of the school’s history where it was stagnant but the growth currently taking place will draw more positive attention to the university.

Do you plan to make any changes in the College of Arts and Sciences to enlarge the women’s study program?

I am hoping to implement the minor of a GLBT studies and that should be in place within the next year and a half.

Overall Dean Miller’s outlook is optimistic and forward thinking. Although she has been here but a short time, she plans to immerse herself into the workings of the school and add new programs with different departments and schools on campus. It will be interesting to see how the shape of the College of Arts and Sciences changes over the course of her tenure.