By Hailey Hensley
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) has a new dean as of July 1, 2019. Kelly Bidle was appointed as dean of the CLAS in the wake of Jonathan Millen’s resignation from the position in spring 2019.
Prior to beginning her tenure as dean, Bidle served as associate dean for two years as well as chair of the “Promotion and Tenure” committee. She has been a Rider faculty member for 18 years and primarily specialized in biology, according to Bidle.
“I’ve seen the university from all angles, not just the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” she said. According to the Rider University website, Bidle has more than 20 publications to her name.
After Millen’s resignation, Bidle said she felt “extremely fortunate” to have been appointed as dean and that the university decided to search within its own faculty for Millen’s replacement.
“I have to tell you, I feel so fortunate that the faculty was so supportive of me becoming the dean. They felt they didn’t need to do an external search,” she said. “Between the support of the CLAS faculty, the provost and the president, I was appointed from within.”
However, despite her proclaimed good fortune, for Bidle, every job still has its drawbacks.
“In my former position, I had so much interaction with the students. As associate dean, I would say at least 70 percent of my job was interaction with students for problem-solving and just chatting with them. In this position, I already see that I have much less interaction with students, so it’s something I’ll have to really try to make sure that I do,” she said.
Bidle shared that there are a lot of things to get used to in her new position and some of them are much easier to cope with than others.
“This is the first time in 18 years that I’m not teaching, so that’s an adjustment. I do hope that once I settle into this position I can get back to the classroom. I think it’s really important to stay in touch with what’s happening in the classroom and with the students,” she said.
Bidle made clear that the importance of the CLAS cannot be overstated.
“We [CLAS] are the academic heartbeat of this university. We offer anything from the humanities to the social sciences to the hard sciences. This is the kind of place where students that don’t know what they want to do can really figure that out because the opportunities are just immense,” said Bidle.
Along with the importance of the CLAS, Bidle emphasized the importance of her new position.
“It’s a position of great responsibility and I want to make sure I live up to the expectations that are required by this job and that I do right by my faculty, students and staff,” Bidle said.
Though she has only been in office for a short time, students have already shown interest in their new dean and any changes she may bring to the department.
Senior film, television and radio major Zane Birnie said he was enthused about the future of CLAS under Bidle.
“I’ve been a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for a long time, and I love it here,” said Birnie. “I’m just really excited to see where Dean Bidle might take us. I can’t wait to see what kind of changes she might bring.”
Bidle ended by underlining the importance of unity in the CLAS.
“I really want to make sure we are one college,” she said. “We are the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, not just one or the other. Fostering those interactions is something that’s very important to me.”