Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Meet the New Dean of Arts and Humanities

August 14, 2009

In this segment, Dr. Timothy Alborn talks about his time at Lehman, his new job as dean, his goals, and his vision for the College.

6 Minutes 26 Seconds

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Hi, this is Nathaniel Gasque, a student at Lehman College. This past July, Dr. Timothy Alborn officially took the helm as the new dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities. He has taught in the Department of History for ten years, four of which he served as its chair. In this segment, he talks about his time at Lehman, his new job as dean, his goals, and his vision for the College.



I got my degree in 1991 in-- as-- in the history of science department which is a kind of odd sort of department. But what I've really started working on back then and continued to work on in my-- in my eight years at Harvard and since I got here is really looking at-- the intersection of-- sort of, political and-- and-- politics and culture generally-- as-- as-- as-- revealed in, you know, novels and-- and plays and other things-- with-- the business world.

So, I've really specialized in looking at how big institutions work, how big, you know, important financial institutions work-- what makes them tick, how they affect other people.

And I guess, one thing that's kind of interesting about moving into a job as a dean is I'm really getting-- a much-- a very different view and-- and a broader view of how-- how this big institution works. And so, it's gonna be interesting to see if I've learned anything that I can use in practice.


I applied for the job because the college, I think, is in a really important-- transition-- in a lot of ways. We're moving in a lot of new directions-- we have a lot of fairly new faculty who either just came on board in the last few years, or just got tenure. And I wanted to be a part of-- of where it goes.

When I arrived at Lehman in 1999, it was within a year or two of a major transformation-- with the-- the end of open admissions at Lehman College. I was just-- dimly aware of it being a brand new faculty member. And I-- I really never got a very good sense of what difference that made in the classroom-- where a number of-- students who would normally have shown up at Lehman as freshman would go instead to community colleges and show up here somewhat later.

But I have noticed over the last ten years-- I think a more serious purpose among our students and-- a better sense of this is what I wanna do with my life. I've noticed-- a growth in-- commitment for advising students and for-- for making sure students are getting the most out of their education.


I think there's a long way to go and I think one thing we'll be working on very much over the next couple years is-- is improving our advising and improving our, sort of-- working with students on-- on making the most of their degrees. There's some really great new initiatives-- there's a new business and liberal arts program that I think will appeal to a lot of the better student-- you know, the most successful students in our division-- where they can get some additional support for-- for-- and-- and additional coursework they might need to turn their humanities degree into-- a successful career in business. And these are the kinds of things I-- I think that are-- you know, just getting off the ground at Lehman that-- that-- with the right kind of support will-- will really turn Lehman into an even better place for students to learn.

What I'd like to see happen-- more of-- and that I think I'm well-- well positioned to do is to-- is to see people in different departments-- both within the division and across divisions-- faculty members, graduate students-- undergraduates to some extent, think across those boundaries and think beyond those boundaries-- meet people in other def-- in other departments, other divisions that might have similar interests but they might not know that person because, you know, one person's teaching in English and the other one's teaching in-- Philosophy or teaching in Latin American Studies.

And-- I think that I'm gonna do everything I can to bring people together in that way and get them to understand that this is a learning community and-- a teaching community and a research community that is more than 30 departments. And that the whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts in this case.


Looking ahead-- next five, ten years-- I think it's hard to predict. What I'd like to see happen-- first of all, gets us back to the-- the-- the goals and the plan that I talked about earlier to try and-- change the admission standards of the college-- attract some of those students who-- who for whatever reason decided Hunter was a better place, or Baruch was a better place to go, get them to stay in the Bronx, or-- or come down from Westchester county.

I think that's gonna make a big difference. I-- I went to an ivy league school as an undergraduate. And I always like to tell people, "The-- the professors were great, but being surrounded by really smart students was the best part of that education." And I think that the-- the students that we bring into Lehman-- are going-- you know, are going to be the reason why other students learn.

I hope to see a continuing influx of great new faculty members who can inspire their colleagues and inspire their students. And-- finally, I think-- you know, I-- just to re-- repeat something I said earlier-- I hope to see-- a college that, you know, where all the parts are working together-- much more effectively.



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