Dean leaving for Washington

Jen Drake, Dean College of Arts and Sciences
Jen Drake, Dean College of Arts and Sciences

Dean of the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences Jennifer Drake will be leaving the University of Indianapolis in June of this year. Drake said she was offered and has accepted the role of provost and vice president at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

“What attracted me to the position was that Evergreen State College has a very unique model,” Drake said. “The courses are interdisciplinary,  team taught [and] grading is narrative, not letter grades. They’re very well-known nationally for their development of learning communities, so it’s a very innovative place, very committed to social justice as an institution.”

Drake said that when the college reached out to her about the position, she felt it was a “perfect fit” for her, and she is excited to be moving to Washington, a move she describes as an “adventure.” Drake has worked at UIndy since 2004 and started as an associate professor of English. She was then promoted to full-time professor and became the dean in June of 2011. Associate Dean and Professor of English Bill Dynes said that he has worked with Drake the entire time she has been at the university and that he will miss her dearly.

“I’m absolutely delighted for her, and there’s no question in my mind that this is the right thing for her to do,” Dynes said. “… We’re going to miss her. She’s done wonderful work with the college, and replacing her will be very, very difficult.”

According to both Dynes and Drake, there will be a nationwide search for a new dean, but when and how long that will take is up to President Robert Manuel and the new provost. In the meantime, Dynes will be serving as interim dean for SCAS, and Dynes said there might be a couple of people serving as interim assistant deans for him. Dynes said the reason why the process works this way is because of the importance of these positions.

“The basic reason is that we always want the absolute best person we can find for any position,” he said. “So as far as I know, all full-time academic positions from provost all the way down to assistant professor require a national search. So [for the position of] the dean, being such an important position, we’ll need to do a national search, and that will be a very time-consuming process.”

Dynes said that he is encouraged by the number of people who are going to step up and help as the school works through this transitional period.

“Change is hard, and it’s a little scary,” Dynes said. “But the folks who are being thrusted into these positions are working awfully hard. I think we’ve got our eyes on the prize.”

According to Drake, she is not worried about the university being able to replace her, but she does feel excited and sad about her new job opportunity.

“I’ll really miss the people here,” she said. “I’ll really miss my colleagues in Arts and Sciences. I’ll really miss the students. So that part’s hard. I’ll miss the relationships that I’ve built here. And we’ve been doing such good work in the college, and I’ll miss seeing some of our initiatives all the way through to completion. I’ll get to see from afar and clap from afar, but I won’t get to see everything through to completion…. I feel grateful to the university and to the community for [the] opportunities I’ve had here to grow in my profession, to grow and develop as a leader.”

Dynes said he knows that Drake is a perfect fit for the job at Evergreen State College, but it will be difficult telling her goodbye.

“She’s so passionate about making sure that the students are challenged but well-supported,” Dynes said. “And trying to follow in those footsteps will be quite a challenge.”

According to Drake, she is looking forward to embarking upon the next phase in her career and hopes UIndy students and faculty know that a piece of her heart will always remain in Indianapolis.

“I think I want people to know that I’m not leaving in the negative sense,” she said, “that I feel like this has been a really important place for me and my family, and I am who I am because of UIndy in part. And that includes the students I worked with and faculty and my colleagues as well.”