Dean of Arts & Sciences resigns, interim dean named
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Dean of Arts & Sciences resigns, interim dean named

After serving as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences since 2017, Michael Kruger has stepped down from his position.

Kruger is departing USD to become dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

USD Provost and Vice President for Academic affairs Kurt Hackemer said John Dudley, who has been associate dean of Arts & Sciences for seven years, has been named interim dean of the college.

The Dean of Arts & Sciences, Hackemer said, has to have the skill to balance a range of programs including humanities, the social sciences, mathematics and the natural sciences. Additionally, he said the college delivers everything from remedial education to doctoral degrees, so the dean must have an appreciation for the variety within the programs.

“Arts & Sciences is interesting because it’s so complicated compared to the rest of the university. Not only is it the largest college on campus, but there are 16 different departments in there,” Hackemer said. “Dr. Dudley was kind of an obvious choice to fill that interim role, simply because you want someone who understands all of that complexity.”

Normally when looking for a new dean, a college puts together a search committee comprised of representatives from different departments, though Hackemer said such a committee hasn’t been put together yet. 

“We need to… let things settle down a bit. It’s a matter of talking to people. We’re ‘taking the temperature’ of the college, and then deciding what our path forward is going to be,” Hackemer said.

Part of the dean’s job is connecting with donors for fundraising, which Hackemer said is a process of cultivating relationships which might sometimes last for years. 

When a dean moves on and a new faculty member comes to take their place, Hackemer said the new dean doesn’t have to start from scratch. The USD Foundation staff helps introduce the new dean to alumni with whom the university has longstanding ties so new relationships can be developed and new donations secured.

“When something big happens, it can be extraordinary for a school. Take a look at the law school. We have the $12-and-a-half million gift that came in last year. That then changes scholarship opportunities for students… all kinds of things,” Hackemer said. “Those kinds of gifts are transformational.”

Hackemer said it’s important that the new dean work out a way for the College of Arts & Sciences to contribute to USD’s new five-year strategic plan. The plan contains six strategic themes—academic excellence, engagement, facilities and infrastructure, diversity, and serving South Dakota—and was introduced in University President Sheila Gestring’s 2020 State of the University Address.

Additionally, Hackemer said the goal of Arts & Sciences is to create informed citizens that can adapt and be ready for jobs that don’t even exist right now, and the college needs a dean that can make that happen.

“By legislative statute, our mission is to be the state’s public liberal arts institution… and the core of a liberal arts education is College of Arts & Sciences,” Hackemer said. “You want someone who understands and will be successful at working with that for a breadth of programs that Arts & Sciences represents. And you want someone who is a bit of a strategic thinker. How do you position the College of Arts & Sciences to be successful five years down the road—10 years down the road? That’s the combination of things that you would look for. It’s a tough combination to fill.”