By Brittney Payette
Cameron’s fall 2023 semester started with a multitude of changes, particularly with faculty in several departments across campus.
What does this mean for the students?
One of the departments that has experienced some significant changes recently is the Psychology department. After the previous department chair, Dr. Shaun Calix, left, Dr. Mary Dzindolet took over this year as interim chair.
She previously served as the department chair for Psychology for around ten years before Calix expressed an interest in being chair, and Dzindolet decided to step down.
“He was so mature and responsible,” she said. “He was an awesome leader.”
Dr. Joanni Sailor retired, Dr. Shaun Calix, and Drs. Stephanie and William Stern moved. Dr. Stephanie White, Dr. Joe Williams, and Dr. Paul James were the new hires for the Psychology department.
Dzindolet said that although she is sad to see the four professors leave, she is really excited to work with the new professors Cameron hired.
“There’s always something lost, and something gained,” Dzindolet said. “We really miss the people that are gone.
“I guess the other thing I would want students to know is that they’re still going to be well cared for,” she said. “The advising has changed.”
Dzindolet said that during the hiring process, the department asked interviewees to come in and do what she called a “job talk,” wherein the department asked prospective hires to teach a short class.
Dr. Joe Williams is a Cameron alumni who received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Cameron. He was hired as a full-time Assistant Professor this semester. He said he loves that his job allows him to help develop the next generation of counselors.
“We have a shortage of clinicians right now,” Williams said. “There is a growing need for mental health.”
Williams one of his favorite things about Cameron is its culture.
“There is a closeness that exists upon the Cameron University campus that you don’t often find at larger universities,” he said. “On the flip side of that, the quality and the rigor of our courses are second to none. We have superior professors, and we have amazing students here.”
Williams said his foremost concern as a professor is to provide a quality education in order to help develop competent and efficient mental health providers.
“I enjoy interactions with students,” Williams said. “When you see those aha moments, those are amazing… You see that development, you see them grow into no longer just learners but they are experts in their field- that feeling… it makes you speechless. There are no words to describe it.
Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies and the acting dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Jennifer Dennis said that the hiring process at Cameron begins with a vacancy opening up because of a professor retiring or leaving.
“When someone resigns or retires, the department chair will put in a personal request if they think they need to fill the vacancy,” she said. “Then, I review the numbers. We look at the credit hour production in the department, the enrollment, we look at the percentage of courses that are being taught by adjuncts, so we look at all of those things.”
She said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ronna Vanderslice makes a recommendation to the president, and he approves or disapproves it. If McArthur authorizes the department to start looking to fill the positio, Dennis contacts human resources, and they advertise the job position online. “The department chairs actually manage the faculty searches,” Dennis said. “They typically have a screening committee of faculty members who look at all the applicants, and then they do Zoom interviews as a first round.”
The next step is in-person interviews. The interviewee is brought in and meets faculty members within the department.
They also teach a mock lesson to students, which allows students to be involved in the hiring process and give feedback for potential new professors. Then, the prospective faculty member meets with the department chair, Dean Dennis, and Vice President Vanderslice.
Dennis said that teaching is Cameron’s number one priority.
“Their teaching demonstration is very important,” she said. “We also look to see that they have the credentials that are required by the higher learning commission.”
Dennis said that Cameron has a new faculty orientation the Thursday and Friday before faculty offices open, which helps new professors acclimate to the university.
“They get two full days,” she said. “A boot camp, if you will, of everything Cameron – and Vice President Vanderslice and Dr. (Margery) Kingsley kind of manage that training for those two days.”
Dennis said that Vanderslice also runs a monthly meeting for new professors during their first year at Cameron, and the specific departments that the new faculty is a part of also provide new professors with training.
Dennis said there are some great benefits to working at Cameron, including living close to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge, health insurance, retirement benefits and the time off available to those working in higher education.
“I love bringing candidates on campus because they usually don’t know a lot about us,” she said. “I find that they’re pleasantly surprised when they get here at how nice our campus is, how nice our facilities are, all of the support that we provide new faculty.”
Dennis said several departments have experienced changes in faculty, including the Department of Agriculture, Biology, and Health Sciences; Psychology; Art, Music, and Theatre Arts; Business; and Social Sciences.
Assistant Professor Dr. Justin Nash is one of the new faculty members at Cameron who was recently hired for Agriculture, Biology and Health Sciences.
“Everybody was really nice,” Nash said. “I enjoyed my interactions with the students and Cameron kind of felt like home, you know?”
Nash said everyone has been great about helping new professors get used to Cameron.
“They do the new faculty orientation,” he said. “That is kind of a crash course in most of the vital things that you need to know.”
Nash said that many faculty members have made themselves available to answer questions and to navigate him through some of the online programs such as Blackboard.
“Everybody’s just been really, really helpful,” Nash said. “So far, I like everything about Cameron. Everyone seems really friendly (and) willing to help.”
He is currently teaching Microbiology and Principles of Biology. Nash said interacting with students is his favorite part of being a professor, especially when he has students who ask him questions. He said he enjoys conveying knowledge to his students.
Nash also said he admires how Cameron faculty and staff members endeavor to be available to students, such as when the University hosts the ice cream social and Ask an Aggie events.
“I feel like Cameron does a lot to make sure that the students are well taken care of,” he said. “I do see and appreciate that about Cameron. I think that’s something that they do very well.”
For more information about the hiring process, contact Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Human Resources department at email@example.com.