Release Date: 
Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Larry Smyrski will continue as Liberal Arts Dean

Headshot of Larry Smyrski

From President Kavalhuna and Vice President Nealon, June 30, 2021:

I n December 2020, after consulting faculty leaders, we welcomed Larry Smyrski as the Interim Dean of the School of Liberal Arts. Larry has been a great leader for the School, in the same spirit in which he has served for 28 years at HFC. You can read about Larry’s distinguished background at the link above.

We are pleased to announce that Larry has agreed to continue as our Liberal Arts Dean through the end of 2021, and longer if needed.

Larry recently outlined his thoughts about our College, the School of Liberal Arts (SoLA), and his many roles. With his permission, we are sharing his thoughts with you.

“I continue to learn about SoLA, its needs, and its potential. I am excited by ideas that faculty share to provide better education for students, to strengthen existing opportunities, and develop new ones. I am encouraged by people's actions to move ideas from just ideas into practice, and by the support they receive from across the institution. I am impressed with the work to develop and strengthen relationships with other institutions, like the University of Michigan, that results in summer fellowships and research opportunities for students.

“SoLA has programs that represent the College to the community, and the pandemic has been especially challenging for them. But I look at what Kevin Dewey, for example, was able to do to continue to provide music in virtual ways that helped lift people's spirits, and I see the continuing potential we at the College have to make the world a little bit better.

“Whether teaching or serving in an administrative role, a challenge is to make decisions (grading, projects to support or not) that can make people unhappy. As a teacher, I have to help students understand, think carefully, and communicate, and then critique them (and myself) through the grading process to improve. Students can find that painful. As interim dean, the decisions tend to impact more people, students and faculty and staff, and often (usually?) need to be made with imperfect information or options. The changing landscape of the pandemic and the resulting modifications to fall schedules exemplify this. Not every decision is made perfectly. I appreciate the support and constructive criticism people are willing to provide me.”

As you can see, Larry is exactly the person we need leading our School of Liberal Arts, and serving our students and faculty at this time. It is a pleasure to work with Larry. We are grateful for his willingness to continue serving as Dean, especially because we know how much he misses the classroom – his first love at the College. We hope all of you will have the opportunity to work with Larry, and to support him in this critical leadership role.

Russ Kavalhuna, President
Michael Nealon, Vice President for Academic Affairs