WHAT'S A NICE DEAN LIKE HIM DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS?
He never has the same day twice, and that's fine with him. "It's an adventure," says Gordian Weil, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Moravian College. "It keeps you fresh. There are times when you say, 'Oh no, I didn't need this thing coming across my desk now.' But other times, you're elated as an idea you had, or helped support, comes to fruition. That's just exhilarating."
Certainly there's no shortage of things coming across Dean Weil's desk, even though he's only been sitting there since July. Many relate to the strategic planning process that's setting priorities and directions for the College's next five years. "Helping that move forward to a successful conclusion is my most important goal," he says, "And that means running a process that's open to the input of all the College's constituencies; the faculty, the staff, the students. And one that's providing information back to those constituencies about where we're going." His task for the next few months, he says, will be to enable all that communication, and then work with his team of faculty, administrators, students and trustees to condense the results into a few important strategic initiatives. "We're aiming to get this done by December," he says, with a characteristically vigorous laugh. "That sounds terribly close to me!
Dean Weil says that since his arrival on campus this summer, he's found our College to contain a mix of familiar and unique challenges. "Some aspects of this job are the different from one institution to another, others are the same," he notes. "The Comenius Center, for example, adds a great deal of richness to Moravian, and it's not something that very many liberal arts colleges have." He also looks forward to working with the College's nursing program. "In this age of a nursing shortage, it's a tremendous thing that we're helping to educate nurses in a liberal arts setting. It's a wonderful thing we do that's not common in liberal arts colleges." These Moravian-specific assets notwithstanding, he sums up the diverse challenges of his job with one commonality: "The role is to facilitate the faculty, so they can provide the best education. And education is the central mission of this place."
The primacy of Moravian's educational mission seems a good fit for Dean Weil, who says he's always seen himself as a teacher. "I've taught driving, I've taught tennis, I've taught economics, I've taught math… I've always enjoyed teaching," he says. Though he's followed a career path of increasing involvement in the administrative side of academia, he hopes to forge a connection with the students here at Moravian. "Students are my ground, my foundation," he says. "You go into teaching to learn, and you learn from your colleagues and you learn from your students. I don't want to cut myself off from half of my source of learning." And what does the dean of the faculty do when he's not being dean? Golf, for one thing, and tennis. "And I'm trying to learn Spanish, so I want to keep working on that." Another challenge for the Boston transplant: surviving in the Lehigh Valley as a Sox fan. "I'm a very small minority here," he says, adding, "Carol, across the hall, is a Yankees fan. We're learning peaceful coexistence."