Incoming students aren’t the only people starting new journeys at Gonzaga this fall. After a nationwide search, GU appointed a new provost and senior vice president as well as four new deans.
Of the five newly appointed academic leadership positions, four were filled by women: three new deans and the new provost and senior vice president.
In January, the university appointed Deena González provost and senior vice president after a failed search the previous year and reviewing over 100 applications. González succeeded interim provost and senior vice president for the 2018-19 school year, Lizbeth "Beth" Martin.
The provost position aims to boost collaboration between students and the administration to create a more fully-integrated student experience.
Prior to arriving at GU, González served as the associate provost for faculty affairs and as a professor in the department of Chicana/o, Latina/o studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Hailing from New Mexico, González earned a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University and both a master’s and doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She was the first Chicana to complete the doctoral program at Berkeley.
González was recently named one of the 50 most important living women historians in the United States by the Sophia Smith Radcliffe/Harvard project.
These attributes were some of the many that convinced McCulloh that the university found the best person for the job.
"She has considerable administrative experience and as a result has clear ideas about how processes can facilitate good decision-making," McCulloh said in an email. "She cares deeply about people, has a positive outlook and very approachable demeanor; yet she is not afraid to ask questions and advocate for particular ideas or approaches."
And while McCulloh felt confident that González was the right fit, González felt confident that GU was the right fit for her.
The university’s vision for its future in the next five to 10 years was a motivating factor for her to choose GU, González said. Other factors included the university’s contribution to Jesuit higher education in general, its motivation rooted in the mission, the success rate of students during and after their careers at GU and the different engaged learning practices.
Being one of the four new women selected for top academic leadership positions, González said hiring a more diverse faculty is a step in the direction that the university is headed toward and was another motivating factor in her choice.
"We know when diversity is at play and when difference is on the table, that you don’t get less of something, you get more of something," González said.
"Sometimes institutions bring in a lot of women, they bring in a lot of administrators of color, or faculty of color, or students of color, and they’re not prepared to handle the differences. They’re not prepared for the kind of insights and ideas that people bring to the table, and they’re used to being in kind of a complacent mode and people can really shake that up."
So during her interview process, when others admitted to González that GU wasn’t perfect but willing and wanting to try and move into a direction of intentional diversity, she took it to heart, she said.
The four new deans are located in the schools of Nursing and Human Physiology, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Leadership Studies and Education.
Vincent Saylers is the new dean of the School of Nursing and Physiology. Before beginning his term at GU this summer, Saylers served as the founding dean and professor of nursing at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. Previously, Saylers held other administrative and teaching positions in Western Canada and California.
Karlene Hoo is the first women to serve as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Prior to GU, Hoo served as a professor of chemical engineering at Montana State University and as dean of the graduate school. She also previously held positions as a professor and associate vice president for research and acting vice president for research at Texas Tech University.
After serving the University of Utah in multiple positions for the past 25 years, Rosemarie Hunter will now serve as the dean of the School of Leadership Studies. Before coming to GU, Hunter served as an associate professor of social work, special assistant to the president for campus community partnerships and as the director of the University Neighborhood Partners program.
Lastly, Yolanda Gallardo Carter was hired as the dean of the School of Education. Before beginning her role as dean in the summer, Carter was an associate professor and the Robert Charles Billings Endowed Chair in Education at Berea College in Kentucky. She also held various positions at Georgetown College and at Kansas State University.
With the new lineup of academic leaders, González is grateful for the numerous veteran administrators.
"That much change can be a little unnerving to anyone involved in the institution in the university, but I think people need to be reassured that bringing in new people isn’t a revolution," González said. "It really is fresh perspectives and thinking through what has worked and what has not worked."
And university veterans like President McCulloh are looking forward to the new sets of eyes.
"I think that Gonzaga, which is constantly striving to provide exceptional student learning opportunities, benefits from having both an excellent, established faculty and the fresh perspectives and ideas that come with new leaders and colleagues," McCulloh said. "I am really looking forward to the energy, ideas and opportunities that I believe will emerge out of these new relationships."