UTA announces search for new College of Liberal Arts dean

Liberal Arts Dean Elisabeth Cawthon answers a question during the Pizza with the Dean event March 4 at University Hall. Cawthon was appointed as permanent dean on a three-year contract in June 2017, and her term is up in May 2020.

On Tuesday, in a meeting at the Science and Engineering Innovation and Research Building, the university announced the search for a new dean for the College of Liberal Arts.

Provost Teik Lim said the current dean, Elisabeth Cawthon, was appointed as permanent dean on a three-year contract in June 2017, and her term is up in May 2020.

In May 2016, Cawthon was appointed as interim dean after former dean Paul Wong resigned because of health reasons, according to a previous Shorthorn article.

Lim said President Vistasp Karbhari had an agreement with the UT System, where Cawthon would be promoted from interim dean to permanent dean on a three-year term.

Cawthon’s tenure coming to an end has nothing to do with performance, Lim said. She can apply for the dean position if she chooses.

The Provost Office will contract an external firm to search for potential dean candidates and provide a list to the university, Lim said. The search firm costs money, but it’s necessary for compiling a list of candidates.

The dean search will be open to internal and external candidates, Lim said. The goal is to have a permanent dean named by spring 2020 and at the latest by fall 2020.

“This dean search is so important because a dean can really make or break a college,” he said.

After the search firm provides a list of candidates, Karbhari and Lim will meet with the candidates and then meet with a committee made up of College of Liberal Arts students, faculty and staff.

Lim said if a permanent dean is named before May 2020, then it’s Cawthon’s decision if she wants to step down or wait for her term to end. He said if Cawthon is not chosen as dean, she will revert back to being faculty.

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