In July, Dr. Jason Hicks assumed his role as the dean of Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts.
Hicks said that as dean, he hopes to help guide both students and faculty towards successful professional environments, and he believes that his past administrative positions have set him up to accomplish this.
“My administrative work, both here and at my former position at Louisiana State University, has always been about focusing on whatever I can do to improve success for students and faculty and staff,” Hicks said.
Through the years, Hicks has held several administrative positions at LSU after beginning his career there in 1998. His first role as an administrator in 2004 was as the Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, followed by his positions as the Graduate Studies Coordinator, chair of the Department of Psychology, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and finally as a Provost’s Fellow in the Office of Academic Affairs.
Hicks said that he wanted to focus on a few key aspects to make the college the best of its kind. One aspect that he wanted to focus on was what he called inclusive excellence.
“The idea is that we’re really making a space for faculty, staff and students to be in a welcoming community with a sense of belonging,” Hicks said. “This space is made so that they have a really good feeling about the place they work or the place they study.”
To achieve this, Hicks said that it will largely come down to how they hire in the future and retain faculty going forward. He noted that students will perform better when they are surrounded by faculty and staff that seek to create the inclusive environment that he wants to see within the college.
Secondly, Hicks said he will do anything to see his faculty and staff develop professionally and as leaders. He plans on providing opportunities for faculty and staff to obtain all the resources they need to be successful.
“This is about having the proper development to be able to teach effectively, do instruction effectively, have all the resources needed to research, scholarship and create activities effectively,” Hicks said. “This, and whatever we can do to supplement this, is very important to our goals in the college.”
Along with this, he hopes to provide the same opportunities to students within the college. He wants students to have access to the proper resources for their university, college and specific department.
While he said that these two goals were his main pursuits, he also said he wanted to play into the Auburn family mindset through creating a solid alumni network to back CLA's initiatives.
As associate dean at LSU, Hicks said he never truly had the chance to deal with alumni and donor relations or fundraising efforts.
“It’s exciting to meet people who really cherished their time at Auburn, who really think highly of their time at Auburn,” Hicks said. “They, in different ways, want to give back. For some people, that means giving back in the form of money or scholarships, for others, it’s about time and expertise.”
Hicks said that he wants to be engaged with Auburn’s strong alumni network to help benefit the college and to gather the best resources for students within the college.
However, Hicks felt that the college could push to find ways to retain faculty that were from underrepresented groups. He said it was a “major initiative” and that it has been a struggle for many universities.
“I want to do whatever is possible to make sure that we’re not only admitting students when it comes to student matters, hiring faculty and employees, but really giving them that sense of belonging and making them feel welcome and at a place where they want to continue to be,” Hicks said.
Hicks is ready to get to work in the College of Liberal Arts. He is ready to create an environment that welcomes all people, has above-and-beyond resources for faculty and students, and is constantly building, growing and looking forward.
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Tucker Massey, junior in journalism, is the content editor for The Auburn Plainsman.