Vote Focuses on Music Dept. to Form Possible Master’s Program

Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) and Dean of Faculty Larry Vote is stepping down to return to his roots as a music professor, and to help President Joseph Urgo possibly develop a summer Master’s program.

Vote worked as Provost for eight years prior to last semester, when he was given the new title VPAA/Dean of Faculty.

In both positions, Vote oversaw academic programs and relations between faculty and the administration; as Provost under former President Jane Margaret O’Brien, Vote also acted as a mediator between the Vice Presidents and O’Brien.

According to Vote, stepping down from his position as VPAA/Dean of Faculty will not affect his other duties, and he will continue to work closely with the music department (himself returning to the position of Professor of Music) and run the River Concert Series; in fact, it is his talents as a musician and music professor that led Urgo to approach Vote with the idea of creating a master’s program in the arts, connected to the series.

Urgo said, “I can’t think of anyone who has [more] artistic and administrative credibility…I’m just glad that he decided to continue administrative duties.”

Vote, as special assistant to the President, will be in charge of developing the master’s program and gauging interest among faculty and potential students.

Vote said, “I will explore the possibilities for enhancing, in particularly academic ways, our arts programming in the summer.“

He added “This will allow our students and students from other parts of the country to come to [the College] at a very beautiful time of the year to have an intense experience in one of the arts disciplines.”

Urgo said that he hoped this could be the start of a larger master’s program, in which students could take part in highly specialized areas of study which would require residency during the summer, but could be coordinated through email and online courses throughout the rest of the year.

He added that the offerings would, “depend on faculty [interest], but we’d like to start talking about it.”

Urgo said that many other small, liberal arts colleges have similar programs.

He added that having one at St. Mary’s would not only better take advantage of the “gorgeous” surroundings during the summertime, but would also provide new revenue streams for the college. No specific programs, however, have been finalized.

While Vote goes on to focus on developing this new program, a search committee has already been formed to find his replacement.

According to Professor of Psychology Anne Marie Brady, the committee consists of six faculty, five staff, and one student; she is both a faculty representative and the chair.

According to sophomore Annalicia Contee, the board had their first meeting this past Friday to develop a position profile for the new VPAA/Dean of Faculty, and decided what they’re looking for.

She said that the committee was looking for someone with a great deal of experience with a Liberal Arts education, outstanding communication skills, and a Ph.D or equivalent terminal degree.

Brady said that she believes the new VPAA/Dean of Faculty should also work closely with faculty and support faculty development.

According to Vote,  “the new dean should be dedicated to the liberal arts mission, an active scholar, and excellent teacher, one with strong management skills…a good sense of humor, [and have] a good judge of character, patience and vast energy.”

This position profile will be handed over in the coming days to Issacson, Miller (the search firm the College also used to find Urgo and Vice President of Development Maureen Silva), who will begin reaching out to candidates. Brady said that Isaacson, Miller would likely present the committee with a pool of around a dozen candidates, of whom the committee would choose the top eight to interview themselves.

The top three candidates from that pool will then be brought to campus. Brady said that the committee would like to have a recommendation to Urgo and the Board of Trustees (who make the final decision) by commencement, and have a new VPAA/Dean of Faculty ready to take Vote’s place by the end of the semester.