A few things stand out when Anne O’Dwyer discusses her new role as dean of academic affairs, such as how her background in quantitative research informs her commitment to making a wealth of information available to students, and that her research on interpersonal and intergroup conflict has made her a skilled and empathetic colleague and administrator. Perhaps most apparent, though, is that her palpable excitement about the position is being translated into substantial resources for the students and faculty of the college.
Over the course of thirteen years as a psychology professor at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, she’s learned to recognize and work with each student’s talents and experiences, and as dean she’ll empower faculty members to do just that. “Student expectations at the Rock are very high,” says O’Dwyer. “The great pleasure of being a faculty member here is the opportunity to meet those expectations, giving students every opportunity to succeed, and having a lasting impact on individual lives.”
Having served as associate dean since 2008, her transition into the new position has been gradual. The outgoing dean, Professor Sam Ruhmkorff, worked closely with O’Dwyer on many issues that she will continue to address. “Anne is incredibly gifted. She is creative, brilliant, kind, and devoted to Simon's Rock. I am excited to have her as my dean and look forward to the things the college will achieve with her leadership,” says Ruhmkorff.
“The great thing about Simon’s Rock is that you have so many choices, but you need to have information to be able to negotiate that freedom,” O’Dwyer says, explaining how she’s weaving together her skill in analyzing data with a focus on documenting student experiences in order to best serve the entire college community.
An important aspect of this work will be tracking junior-year experiences so that students can be well-informed when making choices about study-abroad, transferring, or participation in the Junior Fellows program. “We’ve developed a number of signature programs for the junior-year, both on-campus and abroad, which offer a structure to aid students in developing a meaningful personalized program.”
Another opportunity lies in continuing to implement a strategic approach to course planning. “Professors here have the opportunity to offer classes tailored to particular sets of students, which students love. Almost no other school can offer that. It’s also important to outline a plan of courses in advance so that students can think longer-term about how they want to structure their experience.”
Asked what makes her office different than those at other institutions, O’Dwyer speaks about accessibility. “The full faculty meets with the administration once a month. That doesn’t happen at many places, but we find it extremely valuable. I’ll be working from the library one or two evenings a week so that students have the opportunity to run into me, and to meet with me informally in their own space.”
“Anne has a perfect combination of intelligence, energy, and clearness of vision,” says Provost Mary Marcy. “She’ll do an amazing job furthering the mission of the college.”