Interim Dean, not interim goals
This story was edited for content at 4:10 p.m. on December 4, 2012.
In his seven weeks as the Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Robert Palazzo does not speak of his transition into one of the highest leadership roles at UAB, but rather focuses on his immediate discoveries.
According to Dr. Palazzo, “with an exceptional faculty and ambitious and aspirational student body, I have found that [UAB] is of high potential.”
This is fitting, too, considering the lack of clarity in a timeline for a new UAB president, among other deans that have either left the university or transitioned into a new role this year.
For Palazzo, his main attention has been on the College of Arts and Science. “My main hopes are to figure out within hopefully this year, if we have the right personnel and infrastructure to promote the institution, the right facilities in terms of built environment to sustain and if we have the right programs to support our students,” says Palazzo.
For one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies, Dean Palazzo has found the level of global awareness high at UAB with its strong sense of entrepreneurship and its nimbleness of innovative thinking. He sees a great spirit of opportunity on all sides and looks to encourage this and then extract a vision for a common goal. “My personal vision is for the CAS to mold into a 21st century collegiate body with global aspirations that will work in service locally and internationally,” says Palazzo.
For the College of Arts and Sciences though, UAB’s largest entity and for undergraduates and arguably the most important, the leadership is more important than ever. With more and more students entering UAB every fall, his role has to be to help students garner understanding for the complexities of modern problems. “The College of Arts and Sciences plays a crucial role in preparing students to enact positive change. It is important for the CAS and its leadership and entities to have willingness to self access and explain,” says Palazzo, “This is not an individual task. The role of our leadership is to define reality, determine strengths and weaknesses and the financial resources and to be cold and definitive in that analysis.”
The looming question of progress still runs amok on campus, though, with no definitively permanent leaders in place. For Dr. Palazzo, however, the best has yet to come. He sees this transition as not an opportunity lost but an important step for permanent institutions like faculty and students to keep moving and for the transition to gain momentum forward with new leadership.
“UAB’s community of wise scholars and faculty and students plays the most pivotal role to moving forward with university progress despite the transitioning of the administration,” said Palazzo. “Now is the time for the university to be bold. Now is the time to launch the next phase for progress and reputation.”
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