A former professor at a leading Ivy League college once told me that when he informed older alums of that college about some of what was going on there, they simply did not believe him. Some alums may have trouble believing Joe Asch’s report on the appointment of Sylvia Spears as Dartmouth’s acting dean.
Spears is a specialist in “cultural competence and diversity training.” It would be churlish to suggest that there is no place on a college campus for such a specialist. But I question whether that place is Dean of the College.
Here is a bio of Spears that appears on the webpage of the University of Rhode Island’s Multicultural Center:
Sylvia Spears graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and a minor in theatre in 1978. Afterwards she spent roughly ten years working in administration and management in New Jersey. In 1989, Spears moved back in Rhode Island.
Spears, whose tribal name is Wild Dancer, next worked as an Assistant Tribal Administrator for her Narragansett tribe. In 1992 she returned to the University of Rhode Island for her master’s degree in speech communication. After working at Bryant University, she served as affirmative action officer from 1998-2000. She completed her Ph.D degree at URI in Human Science and Services during 2006. She now teaches movement and voices at the Campus. She has also written plays for inner-city theatre groups.
Spears is an experienced trainer and presenter, specializing in cultural competence and diversity training. She has served as Assistant Director of Multicultural Students Services and Affirmative Action Officer. At present she is on the faculty in the URI Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Sylvia Spears is a certified facilitator for the Franklin-Covey Leadership Studies.
Currently, Spears heads Dartmouth’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership.
I doubt that Joe is being too harsh when he concludes:
Sylvia Spears is in so far over her head in this job that she won’t even be able to see the surface. Has she ever hired or fired anyone in the positions that she has held? I mean, anyone at all? Does she have any management skills/experience? Has she ever prepared a budget and stuck to it?
Even by the lax standards of the academy, appointing Sylvia Spears as Dean of the College is incomprehensible to anyone with a modicum of business experience. The end result of ths foolish appointment will be that the various fiefdoms under her jurisdiction simply go their own way: results may vary, but costs will surely rise everywhere.
Spears will replace the vastly experienced Tom Crady, who is leaving after only 20 months. I spoke with Crady at a parents’ weekend event last summer. He seemed like an able, sensible guy. Joe suggests that Crady “decided to exit the Dartmouth scene early, rather than butt heads unproductively with the bureaucrats who have been in power for two decades. . . .”
If so, that’s a pity.