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The Blue & Gray Press | October 19, 2017

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Another New Face in Administration

The University of Mary Washington will have a new chief academic officer starting July 1.

Richard Finkelstein, 55, was officially announced as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on Monday.

According to a university press release, the dean oversees matters regarding faculty, the curriculum, academic programs and academic support.

“I was attracted [to Mary Washington] by the quality of the faculty, the programs and the students,” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein said he was familiar with the university because his friend’s son graduated from UMW last year and its position as a sister Council of Public Libreral Arts Colleges institution.

“I knew it was strong in all sorts of ways,” he said.

He will replace Rosemary Barra, who has served as acting dean since July 1, 2004.

“My immediate goal is to get to Mary Washington and listen to what people have to say,” Finkelstein said.

In the long-term, Finkelstein said he wants to strengthen UMW’s existing programs, foster more collaboration between departments, and bolster UMW’s connections to the community.

Currently, Finkelstein is chair of the English department at the State University of New York at Geneseo. During his nine years as chair, Finkelstein created a separate creative writing major, a film program and a writer’s forum.

He also fostered connections with students through social events, networking and bringing alumni to talk about careers, he said.
Finkelstein has been a member of the Geneseo faculty since 1983, according to the university’s Web site.

SUNY at Geneseo, located near Rochester, N.Y., is similar in size to UMW with about 5,000 undergraduate students, according to the school’s Web site.

Finkelstein received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago and a bachelor of arts from Williams College.

In light of the current budget shortfall in high education, Finkelstein said Mary Washington should start to form collaborative efforts to save money.

“Everywhere is facing cuts,” he said. “Virginia is actually doing better than some.”

He said he has seen collaborations work in his current community of Rochester, N.Y.

For example, a university could collaborate with the community for internships and service learning, he said.

“Mary Washington has already pursued a lot of these opportunities,” he said.

Finkelstein will be starting his position as dean after a new president takes office.

“I have confidence in [the Board of Visitors],” Finkelstein said. “I’m not concerned. I expect things to settle down in a very productive manner.”

Finkelstein said he is looking forward to being dean.

“I think periods of transition are also periods of opportunity,” he said. “It can be exciting.”