Finalists for Dean of Arts & Humanities visit campus for open forums - LaJuan Simpson-Wilkey
By Naidelly Coelho
Asst. News Editor
LaJuan Simpson-Wilkey, who serves as assistant vice president in the Office of the Provost at Kennesaw State University, Georgia, was the second candidate for FSU’s Dean of Arts & Humanities position to visit campus on March 23.
Simpson-Wilkey said she has a Ph.D. in English and has worked at Clayton State University, which allowed her to broaden her scope in African American literature.
She said her leadership style is being flexible, adaptable, and collaborative, with faculty.
“I like to move with purpose, so that we are not just spinning our wheels doing things that are not going to tie to our vision and mission or where it is that we want to go,” Simpson-Wilkey said.
She said she has been working with microcredentials and she thinks it’s important to have a PLA or a challenge exam that would count toward a class.
Another change she wants to propose is having a faculty one-to-one mentoring program, Simpson-Wilkey said.
She said she wants the faculty to have a strong relationship with each other.
Simpson-Wilkey said it is important to her that students are able to succeed in classes and have the proper tutoring.
“One thing that's important to me over the last few years has been just financial literacy, making sure that our students who are here, once they leave, they have those skills,” she said.
She has a five-year plan. In year one, it would be envisioning and assessment, and years two through five would be the implementation of any of the changes and the reassessment at the end, Simpson-Wilkey said.
Art History Professor Yumi Park Huntington asked, “What about this position at Framingham State specifically attracts you and why is this?”
Simpson-Wilkey said she was attracted by FSU’s arts and humanities website, where she saw students who wanted to be creators and innovators.
“Part of the arts and humanities should be students who are and want to be innovators, writers and creators,” she said.
Someone anonymously asked through Zoom, “In reality in higher education there is a decline in enrollment in arts and humanities. So what kind of pitch would you make to prospective students and their families?”
Simpson-Wilkey said she wants the arts and humanities faculty to decide on a vision and goals and then from there, “communicate to admissions and enrollment what kind of plan we have.”
“Sometimes you just need to be face to face with individuals and actually share what it is that we want to do and have a marketing strategy attached to that and share what that marketing strategy is,” she said.
Mirari Elcoro, vice president of the faculty and librarian union, asked if she had any experience in working in a unionized environment.
“I do not have experience working in a unionized environment, but I do have a lot of experience with working with shared governance,” Simpson-Wilkey said.
In her current job, she helps to shepherd policy through governance bodies and help faculty and student organizations, she said.
Simpson-Wilkey said part of being a leader is being able to communicate with everyone and make sure everyone does what they are supposed to do.
Miscommunications will happen, but “the longer it goes, the more we create this revisionist history in our mind,” she said.