Third finalist for the dean of the College of Arts and Science visits campus

In addition to open forums, College of Arts and Science students will have the opportunity to give feedback on the candidates through an electronic survey.
College of Arts and Science dean candidate Marion Underwood speaks at an open forum on Oct. 16.

Marion Underwood, the third of four candidates announced for dean of the College of Arts and Science position, visited campus on Monday and Tuesday to learn more about MU’s campus and continue the interview process.

Underwood is currently serving as dean of graduate studies and associate provost at The University of Texas at Dallas. She is also an Ashbel Smith professor of psychological sciences. She researches how children develop peer relationships and looks at the “developmental origins of socially aggressive behavior,” according to her profile on The University of Texas at Dallas’ website. Underwood joined UT Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 1998.

Underwood submitted written materials rather than being nominated by a colleague as other candidates were. She said she was interested in the position because it relates to her current work and previous experience.

“I am attracted by the dean of arts and sciences role because it combines what I most love about being a dean of graduate studies,” Underwood said. “What I enjoy is the chance to work across the university [and] across many disciplines to try to raise the quality of education.”

During her time at UT Dallas and Reed College, where she was a professor, Underwood has been able to work with both graduate and undergraduate students. Underwood said she would actively pursue diversity on multiple fronts if she became the dean of the College of Arts and Science.

“I would want to be very energetic in trying to recruit diverse faculty and students and trying to retain them,” Underwood said. “Another piece of diversity and inclusion has to do with the curriculum. I think it needs to be bred into the fabric of the curriculum in almost every area.”

Drew Hill, Arts and Science Student Council president, was able to speak with Underwood during the undergraduate informal meeting session. Underwood discussed her research on social aggression and how teenagers interact with each other using technology. Hill said Underwood’s background in behavioral sciences may give her a good perspective as a dean.

“I think her psychology basis is extremely important,” Hill said. “When you devote your life to a certain field to understand how people think, I think that sets you apart.”

During her two days on campus, Underwood had tours of campus and met with administration, faculty and both undergraduate and graduate students.

Underwood said that her collaboration with colleagues and previous experience in leadership and administration could create impacts at MU.

“I think that I would be a creative leader who would help craft a vision in consultation with the faculty and students,” Underwood said. “I think that I would bring outside experience and experience at a wide range of institutions. I would bring a fresh perspective.”

The final candidate for the new dean of the College of Arts and Science is Patricia Okker, interim dean for the College of Arts and Science at MU. Her open forum was held on Thursday from 2-3 p.m.

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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