News, Administration

BC Announces New Leadership Roles in MCAS

Boston College has promoted two professors to newly introduced leadership positions within the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences. 

Associate sociology professor Brian Gareau said he originally felt unsure about whether he could take on the challenges that came with accepting the new position of senior associate dean for faculty affairs and academic planning for MCAS.

“To have added responsibility, to help Boston College bring in a new cohort of faculty and to be a part of the interview process, and to help departments and programs think through strategically what they might want to do in the future in terms of hires was really a humbling kind of moment,” said Gareau, who was formerly the associate dean of the core.

Earth and environmental science professor Ethan Baxter was promoted to associate dean in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. Associate professor of the practice and assistant dean of the core, Elizabeth Shlala, will take over for Gareau as associate dean for the core. 

Baxter said he is honored that BC has put trust in him to fill the new associate dean of STEM disciplines position. 

“It didn’t exist before,” Baxter said. “So I think we’re all kind of deciding exactly how this will fit within the Boston culture, the Boston College culture and administration, so [I’m] excited and I’m grateful for the opportunity.” 

The recent momentum and growth within the STEM departments at BC, such as investments in the Schiller Institute and the engineering department in MCAS, contributed to the creation of his new position, according to Baxter. 

“I think the time does make sense to have someone who can really step in as a scientist, who has a background as a scientist, who can think like a scientist, to understand some of the unique types of needs and resources that we have in the STEM fields to really step in and have as their primary job,” Baxter said. 

For Gareau’s new position, he will work with the humanities and social sciences departments on the hiring and retiring processes and work alongside Dean of MCAS Rev. Gregory A. Kalscheur, S.J., to introduce and maintain faculty members’ connections to BC’s Jesuit mission, he said.  

“Entering the full life of our students is not just a motto, it’s something we ask our faculty,” Gareau said. “So in a lot of ways, we expect a great deal from our faculty at Boston College, and not all junior faculty have had that experience going through graduate school.” 

Gareau said he credits the creation of his position to the surplus of work that needs to be managed in the dean’s office.   

“I think it’s a sign that the Morrissey College, in particular, has, has really achieved a great amount of success,” he said. “And that success means we need more support.”

Like Gareau, Shlala said she wants to continue assisting faculty and students in their efforts to fulfill BC’s mission of educating the whole person.

“As the associate dean, I expect that there will be many more opportunities to support students and faculty in creative and mission-driven ways in my new role,” she said. 

Shala said she has many goals for the core, including creating new enduring question and complex problem courses for freshmen and potentially introducing similar models into sophomore- and senior-year experiences.  

“It is important that the Core Curriculum remains aligned with BC’s Catholic, Jesuit mission and that it plays a meaningful role in student formation,” Shlala said. 

Baxter said he sees infusing STEM disciplines into Jesuit education as essential because it helps individuals better work through problems and navigate life meaningfully. 

“[Educating the whole person] is a way of viewing the world. It’s a way of experiencing the world, which in my opinion, can be and should be a complement to anybody’s whole experience,” Baxter said. 

October 22, 2023