This summer, two professors took new dean positions.
As of July, Daniel Coupland, chair of the education department, is now serving as dean of faculty, succeeding chair of the English department Stephen Smith. In addition, Smith replaced professor of religion and philosophy Tom Burke as dean of humanities. Both Coupland and Smith have taught at Hillsdale for over 10 years.
The dean of faculty’s responsibilities include running the monthly faculty meetings, overseeing various committees on education, and helping in the consideration of new professors. Coupland said the position typically lasts two years.
The responsibilities for the dean of humanities is comprised of overseeing the humanities departments at the college. The dean is responsible for helping the professors and chairs within the humanities to thrive.
“Both deans were recommended by faculty for their respective positions,” Provost David Whalen said in an email. “Moreover, both President [Larry] Arnn and I knew them to be colleagues of impeccable integrity, goodwill, and keen imagination. They are a joy to work alongside. And, like so many colleagues, what they seek is the good of the college—its students, faculty, and staff—not their own status. They will bring their good minds and character to their positions and help the college accomplish marvels in an environment increasingly troubled.”
Coupland began teaching at Hillsdale College in the fall semester of 2006, after teaching at Saginaw Valley State University. As a professor of education, he has most recently been serving as the chair of the education department.
“The provost of the college explained the position to me and then he invited me to consider taking it,” Coupland said. “Of course I was flattered by the offer, but I decided to pause, think it through, and talk to my lovely wife before deciding.”
After accepting the position, Coupland began consulting previous professors who had held his role.
“The previous dean of faculty was Dr. Stephen Smith, who is now the dean of humanities,” Coupland said. “He was a person that I spent a lot of time talking with to get a sense of what the position is and the ebb and flow of the time commitment.”
The other role filled during the summer was the dean of humanities. In 2001, Smith started his career of teaching at Hillsdale. The past two years, he served as the dean of faculty and the chair of the English department, and he continues to serve as the English chair.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to work with my colleagues across the humanities, to mentor new faculty, and especially to help the department chairs in whatever way I can,” Smith said.
Because of the nature of the position, there is a limit on the classes a dean teaches, according to Smith. The current dean arrangement requires that he teach one class. “One unexpected thing has been that my love of Shakespeare, Milton, and Dante has somehow intensified now that I’ve been reduced to one class,” he said. “I intend to teach those classes at the highest level and with as much joy as possible.”
Although Smith is limited to one class now, he said he was excited about the prospects of serving as dean of humanities.
“Honestly, there was a difficult choice because of my love of teaching,” he said. “I miss especially knowing a large number of students and sharing the love of literature with them. That said, I am happy and excited to serve in this new way. I see it as another way of helping students and another way of getting to know my great colleagues better.” He added jokingly, “The ‘H’ in Hillsdale stands for ‘humanities.’”