Cluster Dean Terms Extended For Murata and Joel

Elisa Joel, Dean of Abbot Cluster and Aya Murata, Dean of Pine Knoll Cluster, will look forward to more cluster munches and cluster council meetings as their terms have been extended until the end of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school year respectively. Clyfe Beckwith, Dean of Flagstaff Cluster, will step down from his position at the end of the 2010-2011 school year as originally scheduled. Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, said that Joel and Murata’s terms as cluster deans were extended in order to avoid having too many turnovers at the same time. Murphy said, “The three current cluster deans were scheduled to leave their positions at the end of this year, but the administration felt that it would not have been in the best interest of the new cluster deans and the student body to have more than half of the cluster deans be new to the position.” The current tenure of a cluster dean is six years, and usually leaves two positions vacant due to the cluster dean rotation schedule. However, in 2005, the Dean of Abbot Cluster left his tenure early for a position as the Head of School at a peer school, and Murphy left his position as Dean of Flagstaff Cluster to serve as the Director of Summer Session. As a result, Joel, Murata, and Beckwith were all appointed as cluster deans the same year. Murphy said that with the recent appointment of Cynthia Efinger as the Cluster Dean of West Quad South and Frank Tipton as the Cluster Dean of West Quad North, the administration was worried that having a complete turnover of cluster deans in two years would bring a lack of experience to the office. “We have two new deans this year and to have three new deans in the next year was a little bit concerning. We understand how important it is for this position to have people who have some experience and can work together,” he said. The decision to extend Murata and Joel’s terms as cluster deans was made at the end of fall term when administrators realized that the rotation of three cluster deans in one year could have several setbacks. According to Murphy, the decision ultimately rested with Head of School Barbara Chase, who decided the terms of the new rotations. Murphy said that although the alterations felt like the right thing to do, the decision was not an easy one to make. “It was hard in that whenever you tell people that there is going to be a certain term limit, you try to hold to that. Making an exception to a rule is not something we don’t take lightly,” he said. Murata and Joel are pleased with the decisions and are looking forward to their extended tenures. Murata said, “I love my job as the cluster dean, and I knew it would be hard to say bye to the Pine Knoll family at the end of this year. I am really looking forward to two more wonderful years in the Knoll.” Joel said, “I am happy to stay in Abbot for one more year and work with the Abbot Cluster faculty and students.” Before the rules for the tenure of a cluster dean underwent a change in 2004, cluster deans had a six-year tenure, with the option of adding two-year extensions. The two-year extension policy was abrogated to provide more faculty with opportunities to be a cluster dean. Because Beckwith will step down from his position at the end of this year as originally scheduled, interviews are currently being held for candidates. According to Murphy, the new Flagstaff Cluster dean will be announced in few weeks.