By Leighah Beausoleil
Teresa Stores, associate provost for faculty affairs and professor of English and creative writing at the University of Hartford, Connecticut, was the last of the dean of Arts & Humanities candidates to visit campus March 27.
Stores has worked at the University of Hartford for over 20 years, holding a variety of positions, including director of the Humanities Center, Harry Jack Gray N.E.H. distinguished teaching humanist, associate dean of curriculum and instruction for the College of Arts and Science, director of the Creative Writing Program, and multiple interim departmental chair positions.
She is also a published author of three novels, a collection of short stories, and multiple poems and essays.
Stores said she comes from a family of creative minds, including her two children, who are both currently pursuing careers in creative fields. “We keep telling them, ‘Just follow your passion.’ So that's part of who we are as a family and as people out in the world.”
She said she initially pursued this field of study because she wanted to know the value creativity has in the world, adding she believes it is the job of faculty, practitioners, and scholars in the areas of arts and humanities to articulate this.
“We get into the arts because we're passionate about it, but the next step is teaching students how to talk about that and how to share that vision,” Stores said. “Our job is to make that bridge between that passion and that belief in the value and the specifics that we take from what we learn as creative and critical thinkers into the world to make a difference.”
She said this is her vision for the College of Arts & Humanities.
Alexander Hartwiger, a professor of English, asked what “messaging” Stores would use in recruitment of prospective students and how she would communicate the core of this message to those working in admissions and enrollment.
Stores said this is in relation to what she has been saying, adding how people in this field need to articulate their work in a way that allows people to understand its value, especially for those who may doubt the field.
She said it is “clear that what we need to be able to negotiate that uncertainty, and that complexity is an understanding of how we think of being able to think critically across disciplines, make connections to the past, to the future, to the social structures that surround us, to be able to communicate that, to be able to listen, and to be able to read carefully.”
Maria Bollentino, chair of the History Department and assistant director of CELTSS, asked, “Could you describe how your leadership style and communication practices could facilitate an environment of cross-disciplinary, cross-departmental cooperation, collaboration, and resource sharing to increase engagement of community partners and access to alumni support?”
Stores said though she “hates” to say it, the best way to encourage this would be through forming a committee or advisory group that can meet regularly. Then, in those meetings, the different departments can maintain an open dialogue with one another and connections can be made among individuals who can work well together to achieve a specific goal.
Mirari Elcoro, a psychology professor and vice president of the FSU chapter of the Massachusetts State College Association, asked, “What is your experience and approach working in a unionized environment?”
Stores said she is passionate about unions, but has limited experience with them. Due to working at a private institution, the only union she has worked with is one for part-time faculty.
“I sit on the negotiating team for the Provost Office with the part-time faculty union,” she said. “We negotiated a new contract.
“Everybody got what they wanted,” Stores added.
She said it is all about communication. “It was really because we came to the table and I was passionate about this with the team and I said, ‘We have to provide for these part-time faculty who have not been served well by the university.’”