As the new academic year gets under way, President Karen L. Gould officially welcomed the founding deans of four new schools, completing the final stage of an ambitious academic reorganization started less than two years ago. Together with the existing School of Education, created in 1971, the new structure will streamline the college’s operations, raise the profile of its nationally recognized academic programs, and expand partnership opportunities in Brooklyn and beyond.

“I look forward to working with our new deans as we shape these new schools into centers of academic excellence on our campus,” said Gould. “The sheer size and complexity of our institution warranted this dramatic step,” added Gould, who advocated for this administrative transformation upon taking office in 2009. “We now have a leadership team that will provide direct support to our students and faculty, and will collaborate with department chairs to provide the best possible academic experience for our students.”

Until July 2011, the college comprised 32 departments and 10 interdisciplinary programs, all of which reported directly to Provost William A. Tramontano, the college’s chief academic officer. The college took a fiscally responsible approach to the reorganization. By streamlining operations in the Office of the Provost, distributing oversight of graduate programs and research to each of the schools, and reassigning existing staff, the new schools were established without creating additional positions and with minimal new funds. Each department now resides within one of the five schools — Business, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and Visual, Media and Performing Arts — placing decision-making authority in the hands of those with a deeper understanding of the operations in each department.

“The new five-school structure will help to ensure that each department has the resources necessary to support its mission and serve its students,” Tramontano said. “It will also enable the college to identify additional external resources to invest in new and existing programs.”

As the leaders of their respective schools, the deans will provide strategic vision and operational leadership to all aspects of the academic programs; create an environment that supports students and faculty; streamline pathways to graduation through a commitment to effective recruitment, retention and persistence; promote excellence and diversity in graduate and undergraduate programs; and advance scholarly activities of the faculty.

The deans also will work closely with the Brooklyn College Foundation to attract external funding from federal agencies, corporations, foundations and individual donors to support the schools; fund new initiatives; complement the resources provided by the state and tuition revenues; and identify priorities and directions for future growth and innovation.

The new deans are:

  • Maria Ann Conelli ’80 of the School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts is a Brooklyn College alumna. Dean Conelli’s career has spanned both museum and academic setting, most recently serving as executive director of the American Folk Art Museum, and as dean of the School of Graduate Studies and acting dean of the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her leadership experience in arts administration provides her with a strong background in curriculum development, strategic planning, global partnerships and fundraising.
  • Willie E. Hopkins of the School of Business comes from California State University, Chico, where he served as dean of the College of Business for six years. Prior to that, he served as dean of the School of Business and Technology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and as associate dean for research and administration at Colorado State University. Dean Hopkins brings more than 30 years of academic and administrative experience to Brooklyn College. He is the author of two scholarly books, has a combined total of more than 100 journal articles and conference presentations, holds positions on numerous editorial review boards, and has served as a member and chairman on several accreditation review teams.
  • Kimberley L. Phillips of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences comes from the College of William and Mary, where she served as the Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Associate Professor of History and American Studies since 2004. Until 2009, she was also dean for educational policy and, before that, director of its American studies program. Dean Phillips has a record of scholarship as a historian of the American experience. She is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and has received fellowships and awards from Harvard University and Wellesley College, among others.
  • Kleanthis Psarris of the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences was until recently the chairman of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Texas at San Antonio as well as director of its Center of High Performance Computing and Software. As chairman, he increased external research funding substantially, improved enrollment and retention, increased diversity among the faculty and student body, established strong ties with business and industry partners, expanded and renewed facilities and equipment, and raised funds to support departmental priorities.

The four new deans join Deborah A. Shanley, who has served as dean of the School of Education at Brooklyn College since 1998:

  • A renowned educator for 35 years, Deborah A. Shanley has pursued research in the field of behavioral analysis on students with social and emotional challenges. Prior to coming to Brooklyn College, she was dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education at Medgar Evers College. Known for her activist perspective on teacher education renewal, Dean Shanley has framed her leadership in a wide network of national collaborative partnerships. On the local level, she has established multiple relationships with local high schools, as well as numerous community organizations.

The schools include the following departments:

  • School of Business: Accounting; Economics; Finance and Business Management.
  • School of Education: Early Childhood Education and Art Education; Childhood Education and Special Education; Secondary Education; School Psychology, School Counseling and Educational Leadership.
  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences: Africana Studies, Classics, English, History, Judaic Studies, Modern Languages and Literature; Philosophy; Political Science; Puerto Rican and Latino Studies; SEEK; Sociology; Speech Communication Arts and Sciences.
  • School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences: Anthropology and Archaeology; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Earth and Environmental Science; Health and Nutrition; Mathematics; Physical Education and Exercise Science; Physics; Psychology.
  • School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts: Art; Film; Conservatory of Music; Theater; Television and Radio.