Magazine On-line [summer 2012]
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Bill PollardPollard steps down as vice president, dean of the college

William F. Pollard stepped down as vice president and dean of the college, effective July 31, after an eight-year tenure that saw significant changes in a number of areas, including the curriculum, student advising, outreach to peer institutions, and staffing. Following a one-year sabbatical, he will return to teaching as professor of English on the Transylvania faculty.

“Bill has been an extraordinary contributor since arriving at Transylvania,” said President R. Owen Williams. “While I will miss working with him as dean, I am delighted that he will remain at the university as a senior member of the faculty.”

Pollard’s areas of scholarship are English, medieval English literature, and medieval theology. He has written numerous papers, essays, and reviews while giving presentations at conferences in the U.S. and England. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Centre College and his M.A., M.Div., and Ph.D. from Duke University. He did post-doctoral study at Keble College, University of Oxford.

“I enjoyed my tenure as dean of the college, and I am proud of all that was achieved working in concert with faculty and staff,” Pollard said. “But I am excited about returning to the classroom and look forward to becoming a medievalist again.” 

Curricular changes during Pollard’s tenure include the addition of Chinese language, several minors including Latin American and Caribbean studies, and eight new majors: art history; biochemistry; educational studies; German studies; international affairs; music technology; philosophy, politics, and economics; and writing, rhetoric, and communication.

“One of the hallmarks of Transylvania is a continued emphasis on intellectually exciting interdisciplinary programs,” Pollard said. “My focus was always on helping to develop good, coherent interdisciplinary majors. The new philosophy, politics, and economics major is an excellent example of that.”

Ten new faculty positions were added during Pollard’s tenure, the full-time position of director of institutional research and assessment was created, and a new associate vice president and associate dean of the college position was added. The latter position has had a positive impact on student advising and retention.

“Having an associate dean who has primary responsibility for working with students at all levels of ability and success—from those who are struggling to those who are high-achieving and need encouragement to apply for national scholarships—has made an enormous difference to the college,” Pollard said.

Pollard worked in several areas to help make Transylvania better known among its peers. He was active in Transylvania’s involvement with the Annapolis Group, served as president of the Association of Chief Academic Officers of the Southern States, was a member of the American Conference of Academic Deans, and for 15 years was an evaluator for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges. He facilitated the university’s membership in the Council of Independent Colleges, an organization that recognized his efforts with its 2010 Chief Academic Officer Award.

In conjunction with political science professor Jeff Freyman and associate vice president and associate dean of the college Kathleen Jagger, Pollard developed the Transylvania Seminar, an annual summer faculty seminar on liberal education that attracts invited professors at national liberal arts colleges from around the country.

“This seminar is a service to our colleagues at the other national liberal arts colleges and is a way of promoting Transylvania while being central to the national conversation about liberal education,” Pollard said.

Pollard’s colleagues on the Transylvania faculty have appreciated his service to the university.

“Bill Pollard did a tremendous amount as dean to enhance the academic culture at Transylvania,” said English professor Martha Billips. “He worked tirelessly to increase faculty lines in needed areas and thus enriched the curriculum and fields of study available to students.”

Political science professor Michael Cairo voiced appreciation for Pollard’s leadership style.

“As dean, he led from the sidelines, letting others share the spotlight,” he said. “He is an exemplar of excellence and raised the standards of all those around him by providing a model of high moral character.”

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