The University of New England has seen new personnel in a variety of upper-level positions. In 2017, Dr. James Herbert became our new university president, in 2018, Dr. Joshua Hamilton became our new provost, and in 2019, Dr. Jonathan Millen became the new dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. I am the Editor in Chief of Nor’easter News and about to begin the second semester of my junior year. Being a student here, a lot of the experience we have comes from all the administrative work being done behind the scenes, especially from the Dean’s office. What work is being done to give UNE students the best education available? I brought this curiosity to Dean Millen and he was kind enough to sit down with Nor’easter News and explain what he envisions for the College of Arts and Sciences and how he plans to accomplish those visions. What will Dean Millen do to get the university from here to the next level of what UNE can be?
It is first important to understand what a dean does, as I did not actually know. As Dean Millen explained to me, a dean is responsible for the operations of a college. More specifically, overseeing the academic programs of the students to make sure the curriculum for each major and minor are leading students down a path to success. A dean also hires and develops the faculty of that college and ensures that they are properly funded and given the resources they need to teach effectively. They also assist in event planning and fundraising.
Dean Millen is a New England native raised in Massachusetts. To my surprise, he played drums for fifteen years in the band Run to Sandy. He has a passion for classic rock music and wishes to teach once again a class called, “The Social Impact of Rock and roll.” Dean Millen has thirty years of experience in higher education as a communications professor and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Rider University in New Jersey.
To be a dean, one needs plenty of experience. I was interested in hearing how his experience as a dean there would transfer to his position here as well as what possibilities he saw in starting fresh at UNE. As a dean he was involved with developing new programs, recruiting new students, hiring and developing capable faculty, and fundraising, mentioning “I have a lot of experience doing the very job that I was hired to do here at UNE.” As for what he looked forward to when accepting his deanship here, he raved about how UNE distinguishes itself from other university’s in the way that it offers a dynamic and comprehensive education accredited to the diversity of colleges and programs within those colleges. Along with that, he couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of the UNE family, adding “once I got here and met the people and saw the gorgeous campus, there was no question this was where I wanted to be.” Having a vision for success is great, but I have two more years here at UNE and I wanted to know how exactly Dean Millen plans to make UNE better.
Within a few minutes of our conversation, Dean Millen had made one thing abundantly clear: he wants to get involved with the students and faculty as much as possible. He was very receptive to the interview because one of the challenges he faces as the new dean is understanding the very programs and students that he is overseeing. He came into this position without having the experience of teaching here first, as he had at Rider University. Therefore, he has formed the Student Leadership and Advisory Council. This council is comprised of faculty nominated student leaders that represent the students within CAS. The purpose of this council is to create a relationship between the students and the Dean so that we can communicate what CAS is doing well and what needs improvement. He wants to make himself as assessable as possible for the students so that he can do his job to the best of his ability, adding “It will give me a chance to learn about the students. Find out the needs, concerns, and what the deans’ office to do for the students.” I am a student on this council and the first meeting proved Dean Millen’s passion for improving the lives of students here as he listened intently to all of our comments and concerns, such as our praise for the student club funding and our concern for the lack of advanced study courses. This council will be meeting monthly as a check-in for what his office can do for us, the student body. But what is he doing for CAS as a college?
UNE is known for its medical-based programs, the College of Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, and Health Professions as well as it’s Marine Science program. UNE’s College of Arts and Sciences is not quite recognized in the same way despite its comprehensive education and extensive list of accomplishments. Dean Millen was very clear on his approach to how he plans to bolster the College of Arts and Sciences: storytelling. Drawing on his background in communications, he loves the art of storytelling and plans to bring that to the table with the CAS newsletter.
The prototype for the newsletter is being developed by Professor Courtney in the department of Political Science. Dean Millen explained that the idea behind this is to share the stories of success within CAS, emphasizing “we want the CAS story to be one that anyone can tell.” The newsletter will be broken down into three sections based on success; students, faculty, and events. It will feature groundbreaking research, faculty publications, and high caliber events such as the Former President Bill Clinton and Governor Jeb Bush lectures that took place on the Biddeford campus. Dean Millen is striving to put UNE on the map as it has never before, stating “We want people to see that UNE is this destination of choice, look at what students get when they choose to study here.” UNE is full of students and faculty that have amazing stories to tell and accomplishments to share. The creation of a CAS newsletter is a way to bring that brilliance to the world.
Overall, I was impressed by the Dean’s eagerness in ensuring he does his job to the best of his ability. With plenty of years of experience at a university that parallels our own in a multitude of ways, he understands how a successful college should operate. He shows real interest in being an asset to the student body as well as developing programs that will boost the university’s image. What really stuck out to me about the Dean was that he provided specific plans to back up what he envisions happening while he goes forward with his deanship. He was prepared to back up his claims with carefully thought out agendas on how, we, as a university, get from here to the next level of what UNE can be.