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A&S dean reflects on first year

By Noelle Mapes
On May 2, 2012

  • Dean Linney hopes students will take advantage of her office hours not only this year but for years to come. SARAH CELONE/THE VILLANOVAN


Although summer means the end of schoolwork, it doesn't mean the end of work for faculty on campus. 

This especially applies to Dean Linney's office in St. Augustine Center for Liberal Arts. 

After her first year at the University as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Linney reflected on her first year here before getting ready to get to work for her second year at the University. 

 In two words, Linney described her first year here as "fun" and "busy," with an emphasis on "busy."  

"It's been busier than I ever expected," Linney said. "I'm the new person and everybody else has been here for awhile, so I'm trying to get up to speed. I've really made an effort to meet as many people as possible and attend many events." 

Linney is looking forward to the graduation ceremonies and her first graduating class, but after graduation comes a good amount of work for the College. 

All preparation for the next year occurs during the summer. Linney said some changes were made recently in the Advising Center and there was the recent creation of the Office of Undergraduate Studies last March. 

She says the plan is to take stock of where the offices are and what has worked well, then determine what will need to be enhanced and worked on. 

The employees in the Office of Undergraduate Studies have created a database of internships for students, which is one of their most significant developments. 

They will work on the database over the summer so it will be available for new students to use come fall.  

"We're looking for ways that we can make internships more readily available," Linney said. "I'm also actually really intrigued with the idea of possibly looking at ways to have group advising for basic things such as core requirements, etc." 

Group advisers would be able to answer the common questions that many students have when they first arrive at the University. Linney said this would create more opportunity for meaningful one-on-one discussions. 

Phasing in the new core this year has brought up some issues that were not anticipated. 

For example, students have questions about how many requirements a course can count toward and some have had questions about the diversity classes' designations. 

Linney plans to review what is going on with the new core requirements and take another look at existing courses.

She also has future hopes of developing an option for students to design their own major. 

"I've talked to a number of people about it," Linney said. "We don't want this to be any old collection of courses. We want to make sure it's valuable and rigorous but that it's possible to have that as an option." 

Many of Linney's ideas are inspired by her experience at previous schools, most of which were significantly larger than the University. 

Junior Erin Malone had lunch with Linney last week and was interested in hearing about her experiences at these large schools. 

"While I'm sure there are many things we as a small school can offer that larger schools can't, she made it clear that there are also many things we can learn from larger schools," Malone said. "She welcomed our input into how the college was run, while also ensuring the faculty were not forgotten in our propositions." 

Of all the schools Linney has worked at before, the University is the only Augustinian school. 

She said the mission and values were very attractive when making her decision to come here. 

When it comes to questions about the University's signature ACS class, Linney appreciates the Augustinian educational value of learning with others. She likes that every student that graduates here has taken ACS. 

"I think the idea of a common experience is invaluable for all students," Linney said. "It really helps with the transition and speeds up students' feeling of comfort and feeling that they have a part of the community." 

 She considers her view on class sizes a bit different from others' views. 

"The size of the class should match the goals of the course," Linney said. 

Linney said if the goals are debate and deep discussion, then a small class would be the ideal environment. 

However, if the goals of the class are to learn the vocabulary of the discipline and memorization for a basic knowledge of the subject matter, then the class size can be more flexible. 

Linney has advertised her office hours to many faculty members and hopes that students will take advantage of them as well during her second year at the University. 

Although she's hoping to get a couple of days off, Linney is ready for a summer of preparation for her next year at the University. 

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