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Forbes dean to be replaced by a current Director of Studies

The position of dean of Forbes College, which was recently left vacant, is open to only six eligible candidates. The position can only be filled by someone who is currently a director of studies in a residential college at the University, according to an online job posting.

A posting for a new director of studies is also advertised, although the residential college is not named, and is not restricted to internal candidates.

Filling the post of dean with a director of studies is standard hiring procedure, Senior Associate Dean of the College Claire Fowler said in an interview. The deadline for applicants for the Forbes deanship was April 29.

In addition, the fact that an advertisement for a DSL position has gone up does not indicate that the University has found a new Forbes dean, Fowler explained. Rather, the University is still in the early stages of choosing the next Forbes dean and the posting simply coincides with the April 29 deadline for directors of studies to submit applications for the dean position.

“We really think it’s important that the residential college dean have prior experience of advising and an intimate knowledge of Princeton’s curricula,” she explained.

Wilson College Director of Studies John Axcelson said that directors of studies have familiarity not only with the processes of residential colleges but also with the specific cases of individual students that a residential college office sees.

“[The University] is very concerned with precedent and making sure we deal fairly with students, even across generations, and the person with the most institutional memory is the best person to oversee the office,” he explained. “It can literally be something as mundane as a student comes into the office with a concern, a senior, and [Dean of Wilson College Anne Caswell-Klein] happens to not be here.”

Forbes Director of Student Life Mellisa Thompson noted that although directors of studies deal mostly with freshmen and sophomores while residential college deans deal primarily with juniors and seniors, the director of studies and the dean of the college work hand-in-hand when it comes to advising. Master of Forbes College Michael Hecht noted that other aspects of the dean’s job, in addition to advising, include managing the budget and planning special events, trips, and study breaks.

“There are a lot of moving parts to a residential college,” Hecht said, “and if you’re coming from the outside it’d be really hard to figure that out.”

Hecht also noted that the dean of a college is frequently consulted by other residential college administrators, and this consultation process would be more difficult if the new dean were not already familiar with the residential college system.

“If you draw somebody from the outside, who’s that person from the outside going to go to when they have questions?” he said. “They are the dean, right?”

Hodgson, who publicly announced his retirement through an April 23 email to Forbes students, is an example of a dean with a vast wealth of institutional knowledge, according to numerous colleagues interviewed by The Daily Princetonian.

Fowler noted that Hodgson was responsible for organizing the Martin A. Dale ‘53 Fellowship, which awards a grant to a graduating senior to pursue an independent project for a year following graduation. Hodgson also helped to implement the Resident Graduate Student system.

“He’s a lot of fun; he’s very thoughtful and supportive … and he has incredible institutional knowledge,” Forbes College Director of Studies Patrick Caddeau said. “I just came back from asking him a minute, detailed question, and he’s probably the only person on campus that could answer that.”

Hodgson’s insight and institutional memory are also valuable in attempts to apply consistent standards, Axcelson noted.

Caddeau said the major emphasis of Hodgson’s leadership in Forbes was on community, which included everything from maintaining a supportive atmosphere in the college to advocating the expansion of the dining hall.

Hodgson plans to complete his book, “Ventriloquism Becomes American: Richard Potter and the Origins of an American Performance Tradition,” and spend more time with his grandchildren in retirement. He added that he was lucky to have a “fun” job.

“One of the nice things about this kind of job is that it is so diverse,” Hodgson explained. “I may be pushing a lot of paper, but I’m not pushing the same paper every day.”

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