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CU Boulder names two finalists for Graduate School dean

E. Scott Adler and Bud Coleman are two candidates for position

Bud Coleman, left, and Scott Adler, right, finalists for Dean of the Graduate School.
(Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)
Bud Coleman, left, and Scott Adler, right, finalists for Dean of the Graduate School. (Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the “Three Minute Thesis” competition. The story below has been corrected. 

The University of Colorado Boulder Graduate School has named two finalists for its dean. The new dean’s tenure is expected to begin July 1.

E. Scott Adler and Bud Coleman, both longtime professors at the university, are candidates for the position.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment Katherine Eggert chaired the search committee, which received seven applications for the position. The search was narrowed down to the two finalists after evaluating the candidates based on their visions for graduate education, experience in leadership positions, and experience working with graduate students and programs.

At the end of 2018, Ann Schmiesing transitioned from her position as graduate dean to the role of senior vice provost for academic resource management. Leslie Reynolds, senior associate dean of University Libraries, has served as interim graduate dean since then.

Schmiesing, to whom the graduate dean now reports, will choose between Coleman and Adler to fill the role.

At separate open forums, each finalist presented his ideas for the graduate school and past experience.

Coleman, professor and inaugural Roe Green Endowed Chair of Theatre, started his career as a dancer in New York City. After suffering an injury, he started working for the New York City Opera before returning to academia. He moved to Boulder in 1993 to work at the university.

“I am so fortunate to call this place my academic home,” he said.

Coleman described himself as a “schol-artist” who writes articles, books and still works in the arts. He has directed musicals in countries such as Russia and Thailand, and also produces choreography.

“I love collaborating with people,” he said. “… It gives me such pride to work with people, get them ready and then step aside and let them shine.”

While at CU Boulder, Coleman has helped with theater productions and created an opera workshop that helps student composers create their own works. He also directs the CU in D.C. program, which helps students live in Washington, D.C., to take classes and work at internships in a variety of fields; and chairs the outreach grant committee in the CU Continuing Education department.

At the Graduate School, Coleman said he is on the advising committee, has judged the “Three Minute Thesis” competition and has gotten two master’s programs approved.

“My vision for the Graduate School is, in many ways, continuing forward,” he said.

Coleman said he would want to advertise what CU Boulder, as a brick-and-mortar program, can offer that online programs cannot, such as community involvement, professional development and creative challenges.

At the same time, he said the school should look at each program carefully to determine what modality of education delivery would best serve its students.

“I think there’s a lot of other options to that than thinking in binaries,” he said.

Coleman also spoke about addressing “everyone on the food chain” at the Graduate School, to ensure students of color and other underrepresented groups such as single parents feel supported. He plans to talk with the United Government of Graduate Students to identify “pressure points.”

Adler, professor and chair of political science, started at CU Boulder in 1996. He is the director of the American Politics Research Lab, and was previously director of the Center to Advance Research and Teaching and of graduate studies in political science.

Adler said he sees the dean position as a chance to “meld” his passion for graduate education with a position that would let him think about its future.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about CU and where we want to be in the next few decades,” he said, adding that he is on the academic futures committee, a strategic planning initiative for the future of the university.

Adler would like to see the graduate school play a large role in CU’s future. He presented three ideas on how to improve the graduate school, including expanding recruiting efforts, promoting interdisciplinary education to improve job prospects, and addressing the concerns of current students.

“There’s no doubt that the job of the graduate school is going to be working with the different stakeholders … to solve some of these problems,” he said, adding that while doing that, administrators need to “make sure that we’re thinking of the well being of graduate students.”

Adler said he would like to look at providing funding for teaching graduate students through different “pots” on campus that might be earmarked for housing or transportation, rather than salaries.

He also said he would like to get professors to think more about the jobs graduate students may be entering that are outside of academia. While some undergraduate degrees are seeing declining enrollments, he said that doesn’t mean the correlating graduate degrees should be cut.

“How do we make humanities more attractive and address broader issues? Some of issues we face in society are probably because of declining enrollments in English and the humanities,” he said, adding that the tech industry is facing issues because it didn’t have social scientists in the room for discussions. “… What we need is a slightly different kind of student.”