BY JOSEPH CUSMANO
Manhattan College’s current Dean of the School of Arts, Dr. Richard Emmerson, will serve his last day in administration on June 30 of this year. Emmerson, who started at the college in August of 2009, has served as dean for five years.
“I’m retiring from the administrative position but I’ll be teaching two classes a semester,” Emmerson said. With a Ph.D. in English and Medieval Studies, Emmerson plans on teaching an English class as well as an Art History class this coming fall semester.
Associate Professor of the English department, Dr. Rocco Marinaccio said, “Rick Emmerson is just a rare person.” He said, “I have never seen a high level college administrator for whom there has been this level of affection and loyalty, in my life.”
Marinaccio, an MC alumnus, has been at the college for 17 years. He was elected by faculty in the School of Arts to represent the humanities on the hiring committee for Dean Emmerson’s current position.
This committee is made up of the Provost, Vice President of Human Resources, Assistant Provost, two students from the School of Arts including one commuter and one resident, the Dean of Education, one faculty representative from each of the other four schools and six faculty members from the School of Arts.
Marinaccio said, “It was a national search and it was a pretty large field.” Some of the responsibilities that the new dean will be overseeing programs that Emmerson himself has helped to institute during his time as dean.
In his time as dean, Emmerson is proud of the creations of new interdisciplinary minors, such as film studies. He also said that he pleased with “hiring new faculty, mentoring them, [and] promoting them.”
Additionally, the creation of the art history major also occurred during Emmerson’s time as dean. This semester, MC will be graduating its first class of art history majors ever.
Marinaccio also noted that during Emmerson’s time in the position, the Dean’s Advisory Council was formed. In short, the Dean’s Advisory Council meets once a month and it includes department chairs and program directors. Of the council that Emmerson helped institute, Marinaccio said, “He was welcoming conversation and a lot of innovation.”
A communications and religious studies major, Jess Frost, was one of the two students who served on the same hiring committee, along with Marinaccio.
“The committee was looking for someone who could work well with both faculty and administrators and was ready to bring the School of Arts new inspiration while celebrating the traditions that have held for over 150 years,” Frost said.
Emmerson himself, however, is not part of the hiring process.
“I’m a firm believer in that people should not be involved in finding their replacements,” Emmerson said.
“When I was interviewed [for Dean], I committed to five years.” Emmerson said. “I didn’t necessarily think it would only be five years…But, I feel like I have met my commitment.”
Assistant Dean of the School of Arts Dianna Cruz said, “His easy-going nature and deep understanding of academics are just a few of the characteristics that make him such a good Dean. The most important though, is that he is a genuinely good person who cares deeply about the students and his colleagues.”
Emmerson’s departure from his position does not mean that he will not be seen on campus, however. “I’ve found the job very rewarding [and] I’ve enjoyed working with the other deans.”
“I’m at a place where I want to be able to have more time for other kinds of things,” Emmerson said. “I’m looking forward to teaching a couple of classes but also having time for scholarship.”
Of Emmerson’s time in the position of dean, Marinaccio said, “In short, he’s been great for the students, great for the curriculum, great for the faculty and great for the school overall.”
Marinaccio confirmed that the committee feels very strongly about the final three candidates for the position, and that the second round of on-campus interviews happened in late February.
He also confirmed that the search committee consulted President Brennan O’Donnell on Feb. 28. O’Donnell is now in the process of deciding on his preferences and making an offer to his first choice.
While he is not positive of when exactly the position will be filled, Marinaccio said, “Everyone is hoping that this will be wrapped up by Spring break.”