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WSU’s homegrown dean of college of behavioral & social sciences

The result of a three-month national search for the new dean of Weber State University’s College of Social & Behavioral Sciences came full circle with the appointment of Julie Rich as the new dean.

Weber State University’s College of Social & Behavioral Sciences' new dean,
Julie Rich is the new dean of Weber State University’s College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Photo credit: Weber State University

Rich has been serving as the interim dean since 2019 and has been serving as the interim dean since former Dean Francis Harrold stepped down.

Rich started her education at WSU and, according to a WSU announcement, “holds a bachelor’s in geography from Weber State, a master’s from the University of Utah and a Ph.D. in geography from St. John’s College, University of Oxford, England.”

Any time a new dean is appointed an in-depth search for the best candidates is conducted. A search committee — consisting of staff, faculty, one student and a member from another college — comes together, creates a job description and begins a national search.

In March, the committee had roughly 30 applicants for the position. The process required each applicant to submit an application with a cover letter, C.V. with references and any relevant materials the applicants decided to provide.

Of the four finalists, one dropped out, leaving three finalists for the position. All three finalists then met with stakeholders of WSU, Provost Ravi Krovi and WSU President Brad Mortensen. The candidates participated in Zoom interviews, visited the campus and gave presentations, which were broadcast campus-wide.

Rich described her time as interim dean as under “the blanket of a pandemic,” which consisted of a a lot of mental and physical stress.

A new dean sits at the helm of the College of Social Sciences. (Archives / The Signpost)
A new dean sits at the helm of the College of Social Sciences. (Archives / The Signpost)

“To reflect back on what we were able to do given all the stresses that were going on in our lives — and that’s everybody: students, faculty, staff. It’s amazing to me that people have the resilience to be able to pull through during those two semesters that were really tough,” Rich said.

Rich emphasized the importance of having hope as human beings and how people can help each other and come together to make it through whatever challenges may arise and finding ways to not only survive but to thrive. Rich doesn’t think we would have made it through the pandemic without hope.

Rich expressed how the challenges the world faced were unexpected, disorienting and sometimes disheartening.

Krovi explained that Rich had the traits for candidacy which were apparent in Rich’s visions for both the community and the university while she worked as interim dean, especially emphasizing Rich’s leadership and student-oriented duties over the past year.

Krovi said that Rich is a dean who will be student-centered. Her vision as dean is to ensure students leave with essential skills. Rich said she hopes to build graduates who are critical thinkers and send them out into the world to forge their own paths.

“The main reason that I am here,” Rich said, “is making sure that through their process of earning their degree that they’re learning, they’re growing, they are gaining essential skills that are going to serve them well throughout their lives no matter what career path they take.”

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