Angela Dillard spoke at an open forum as a candidate for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Feb. 12.  Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

Angela D. Dillard, the associate dean for undergraduate education at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts, gave a presentation in an open forum as a candidate for the dean of Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences position Tuesday.

Dillard outlined her vision for the College of Arts and Sciences, addressed concerns regarding the budget as well as declining resources within the college and defined what excellence means in her presentation.

“I’m here today because I believe that the College of Arts and Sciences is at an interesting juncture, maybe even a crossroads,” Dillard said.

Dillard was asked how the college can continue its pursuit of excellence in the face of declining resources. Dillard said that the best thinking can happen in environments with scarcity, and that the college shouldn’t fear the “fiscal cliff” it might see approaching during declining enrollment and hiring freezes.

“The worst kind of cliff is the one you don’t see coming, until you’re halfway over the thing. We can plan, we can adjust, we can be creative, we can be innovative,” Dillard said. “In some ways, the worst thing you can do is to have a fear reaction to this thing we know is coming.”

Dillard expanded on nine key values she holds in her vision of what the college should be, the first of which being that the arts and humanities should be at the center of the college, as it should support a liberal arts education and research.

“The humanities are fundamentally about what it means to be in the world,” she said.

Another of Dillard’s key values is to actually spend more money despite budgetary concerns within the college. She said moving from “transaction to transformation” with a vision for the future “isn’t cheap.”

Dillard said that in tight fiscal moments, the college should increase spending on education. In her definition of excellence, the college gets to set the bar, admitting that she cares about the rankings of colleges because undergraduates choose their colleges based on quality of their education.

“That’s a profound moral responsibility, for us to deliver a quality education to those young people because they’re footing the bill for everything else,” she said.

Dillard also said that starting with the faculty; embracing equity, access, diversity, and inclusion as an underlying assumption; incorporating the experience of all students into designs; moving in a data-supported direction; telling powerful stories; embracing urban environments; and partnering with students were central to her vision.

Dillard emphasized the important role the College of Arts and Sciences plays in the greater scheme of life.

“We need to teach what can’t be googled,” she said.

Alan C. Michaels, dean at the Moritz College of Law and chair of the search advisory committee, said that Dillard’s current position at Michigan is equivalent to that of the vice provost for undergraduate education at Ohio State.

“In University of Michigan’s decentralized structure, there is not a vice provost for undergraduate education separate from that of the colleges,” he said.

Michaels said that following the committee’s process to identify candidates, the candidates were invited to campus visits. Following the visits, an electronic survey is sent out, and the responses are reviewed by the provost.

The college will continue holding open forums through Feb. 21, and the other candidates’ forums will take place on Thursday, next Tuesday and Feb. 21.