OGDEN, Utah – Francis Harrold, the new dean of the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Weber State University, brings nearly four decades of experience as a graduate student, professor and administrator to his new role.
Harrold comes to WSU from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, where he has served as the dean of the College of Social Sciences since 2008. He said his interest in Weber State was the result of its faculty, who embody strong scholarship and excellent teaching while being extremely dedicated to students.
“Dr. Harrold’s record of scholarship and prior academic experience makes him an ideal fit for the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences,” said Provost Michael Vaughan.
Harrold arrived on campus July 1 and immediately set about his plans to “do a lot of listening” and to develop a good rapport with faculty, staff and students.
“A dean has to be a good listener who really gets to know the faculty, the departments and the issues in the college,” Harrold said. “Then he or she has to take that knowledge and propose ways in which the college can develop further – roads the college can travel that will benefit our students.”
Harrold believes a dean must strike a balance between being a day-to-day administrator and an inspirational leader for the college.
Among his goals for the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences are broadening experiential learning opportunities for students, promoting interdisciplinary programs, increasing sources of external funding for faculty and student research and college programs, and leading discussions about a major renovation of the Social Science building.
“What kind of facility do we need? What kind of space and equipment do we need to move forward with an up-to-date facility?” are among the questions Harrold plans to ask in those conversations.
Harrold grew up in Indianapolis. After earning his master’s degree and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Chicago, he spent 20 years as a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Arlington. Harrold’s transition to administrator began there in 1995, when he reluctantly agreed to stand for chair of the sociology and anthropology department.
“To my surprise, I realized that I was getting more satisfaction from influencing student education a little more indirectly, by helping to recruit and mentor the right kind of faculty, and helping faculty find the resources that they needed,” Harrold said. “That’s when I began thinking about administration at the dean level.”
His opportunity arrived in 2000, when Harrold was selected as dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a position he held for eight years, before becoming dean at St. Cloud State.
The author or editor of two books and numerous academic articles, chapters and papers, Harrold champions the “synergistic relationship” between a faculty member’s scholarship and teaching.
“Teaching is job one at Weber State, but we have a lot of accomplished scholars in this college. I want to do everything I can to support the research and scholarship of the faculty. I think they improve and energize their teaching by being discoverers of new knowledge. They can translate the excitement of learning about a specific subject,” he said. He notes as well that faculty members who involve students in their research provide an invaluable learning experience.
Harrold acknowledges that in addition to educating students majoring in one of the college’s nine disciplines, faculty also prepare individuals who will go on to professional and graduate programs and make contributions as teachers, political leaders, attorneys and scholars.
Always the teacher, Harrold is passionate about the need to educate people about the value of the social sciences.
“Understanding human cultural and social variation is just part of being an educated human being,” Harrold said. “I believe the social sciences really do have a role to play in understanding and attacking our big societal issues.”
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