By Mackenzie Herring
After serving as interim Dean of the College for over a year, Bruce Suttmeier was appointed to Dean of the College on Sept. 18 by Lewis & Clark College President Wim Wiewel. With this position, Suttmeier assumes responsibility for the academic portion of LC, whereas the Dean of Students deals with issues relating to student life.
President Wiewel praised Suttmeier’s resolution, remaining confident even while making difficult decisions such as the budget cuts made last year.
“Specifically the things that I have liked about his work this past year is that first of all he has what I would call a measured approach,” Wiewel said. “So knowing when to push and when to hang back a little bit.”
Wiewel also made a point to say how well Suttmeier fit in at LC.
“He is, from what I can tell, a teacher and scholar of the CAS mold,” Wiewel said. “He is is one of you, he fits with you in terms of what he’s done and his interests.”
As part of the leadership team at LC, Vice President and Dean for Enrollment Management Lisa Meyer has worked with Suttmeier and believes that he knows the college well and has the ability to institute impactful reform.
“While Bruce is familiar with our culture and the way things have been done historically, he also is a proponent of meaningful change,” Meyer said. “He is willing to listen and learn from his colleagues, and not afraid to plan and act on important initiatives. He is a compassionate leader who will drive positive change on our campus.”
Wiewel explained why he chose Suttmeier instead of conducting a national search. According to Wiewel, a few faculty members had a preference for a national search. However, not only is a national search expensive to conduct, but it is likely that applicants would have been unfamiliar with the college and would need time to become acquainted with the school.
“I felt very strongly that what we need is continuity and stability in leadership.” Wiewel said. “Not another year of uncertainty and then possibly followed by a new person learning his or her way around.”
Suttmeier has worked for LC for 17 years and is confident in his ability to serve as Dean.
“Serving as dean is an enormous responsibility, but after a year as interim, I can honestly say that it is something that I am incredibly excited about and it is something I am honored to do,” Suttmeier said.
Suttmeier mentioned the difficulties liberal arts colleges are having in comparison to larger, public universities.
“The primary challenge for LC and other liberal arts colleges like us in the coming years really is to differentiate, defend and promote the kind of academic experience we offer to our students, a close caring and rigorous engagement with successful and dedicated faculty.” Suttmeier said.
Despite being very proud of the progress LC has made in the last few years, Suttmeier listed four main areas of focus in which he is particularly passionate in improving.
“Four broad areas that I see as priorities for the college in coming years are issues around enrollment, faculty diversity and development,(g faculty governance and information transparency,” Suttmeier said.
Meyer believes that Suttmeier has a unique ability to assess changes that need to be made at LC, while still maintaining what the college deems to be its strengths.
“He recognizes the aspects of our current plan that need to be reexamined and the opportunities to strengthen Lewis & Clark for our current faculty and students, as well as for those who will join us in years to come,” Meyer said. “It is Dean Suttmeier’s ability to balance a realistic view with an aggressive plan that distinguishes him as a leader.”
Suttmeier expressed his excitement to continue working within the LC community.
“As dean I will work to continue and expand these efforts, and to the extent in which I am physically able I will be available to you to listen and engage with your ideas and your concerns,” Suttmeier said. “To work with you to strengthen the college, and be open with the information that will help us better realize our mission.”