Dean of Arts and Sciences forum questions candidate

As the College of William and Mary continues its search for a new dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, candidate Sally Wallace added one more CV to the pool in a public forum Thursday.

Wallace holds a Ph.D. in economics from Syracuse University and, in addition to being prolific in academic publications, she has held positions at universities and in economic settings all over the world.

Her international experience includes economics-related work in Asia, Europe, Central America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Currently, she is the chair of the department of economics at Georgia State University.

“A dean should foster an environment that contributes to the depth and breadth of education and research and success of faculty, staff and students,” Wallace said.

After identifying challenges that the College is currently facing, Wallace presented her vision for its future.

“The overarching context in my mind is not to change the game — not to make things different, not to change what William and Mary is to anybody — but rather to look at intensifying the strengths of teaching, research and collaboration,” Wallace said.

Some faculty members expressed concern about the potential effect a greater emphasis on research would have on the quality of teaching at the College.

“When we say things like ‘intensifying strengths,’ for example, in research, oftentimes that’s shorthand for, ‘let’s increase publications,’” assistant professor of Hispanic Studies John Riofrio said. “A really quick way to increase our research profile is just to have people publish more. When you start to do that, you start to jeopardize what it means to teach well.”

Wallace assured the audience that her goal was merely to maximize the value and effects of faculty research.

“When I talk about intensifying strengths here, it’s not so much increasing the number of research articles that have to be published — that’s really not my perception of the direction that things should go; I don’t think that’s the tenor of the discussions that I’ve had,” Wallace said. “It’s more from the notion of making them more valuable to whatever extent that could be.”

As a reflection of her own international experience, Wallace said she would like to promote an “outward focus.”

“What I think I could bring to the store here is this kind of outward focus, talking about internationalization,” she said. “And the very last meeting we had, we all agreed that globalization is kind of a buzzword — it’s one of those things that maybe it’s very hard to write down a specific definition, but we know what we mean by globalization, and there’s all sorts of ways to go with it …. If people were not excited about internationalization and globalization, then it would not be a place for me, but I don’t sense that that’s the issue; I sense that people are very excited about those possibilities.”

Wallace is one of five finalists selected by the search committee from a larger pool of applicants.

The committee will submit at least three names this month to Provost Michael Halleran, who will choose the new dean.

According to the College, the Dean of Arts and Sciences oversees 450 faculty, 5,780 students, 80 staff members, 12 graduate programs and 35 undergraduate departments and interdisciplinary programs and a budget of $58 million dollars.


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