Dean of Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Washington, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Dec 09, 2020
Position Type
Administrative, Deans
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time


Western Washington University

Western Washington University (Western), with over 16,000 students in seven colleges and the graduate school, is nationally recognized for its educational programs, students, and faculty. The campus is located in Bellingham, Washington, a coastal community of over 90,000 overlooking Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands, and the North Cascades Mountain range. The city lies 90 miles north of Seattle and 60 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Western is the highest-ranking public, master's-granting university in the Pacific Northwest, according to the 2019 U.S. News & World Report rankings.  More information can be found at:

The Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies supports Western’s mission, which states that together with our students, staff, and faculty, we are committed to making a positive impact in the state and the world with a shared focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement. We strongly encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and with diverse experiences interested in this opportunity.

Dean of Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Western invites applications and nominations for the position of Dean of Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies.  Western seeks innovative, effective candidates with a commitment to communication and collaboration and who will work with the faculty, staff, and students to develop its vision for the future of the college.  The Dean will be expected to fulfill leadership and mentoring responsibilities that provide equitable and inclusive learning and working environments for faculty, staff, and students. As the chief academic and executive officer of Fairhaven College, the Dean reports to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and is responsible for providing academic leadership and administrative management for all programs within Fairhaven and for the College’s outreach efforts and fund-raising campaign. As a key member of the University’s central executive leadership team, the Dean will work in collaboration with other executive officers to implement the university’s mission and will be an active and visible leader both within the university and greater community. It is anticipated that the Dean will assume office before September 2021.

The College 

Fairhaven College offers a personalized, innovative, student-centered undergraduate liberal arts experience within a larger public university. Established in 1967, Fairhaven was one of the nation’s first colleges to employ student-designed majors, interdisciplinary study, and a non-graded environment. Seventy percent of Fairhaven students design and write their own interdisciplinary majors, while others complete standard University majors. Fairhaven classes are small (12 to 18 students) and employ an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach. Most classes are seminar style, with students encouraged to find their voices in class discussions. Students also commonly pursue independent research and creative work. Fairhaven emphasizes the development of creative and analytical writers through rigorous and varied writing assignments. Fairhaven students complete narrative self-evaluations after each course, to which faculty respond with their evaluations of student work. 

The themes of justice, diversity, and social and environmental responsibility are woven throughout the College’s curriculum. Fairhaven houses several special programs, including the American Cultural Studies Program, the Law, Diversity, and Justice Program, and the Upside-Down Degree Program, which allows students with Associate technical degrees to complete their baccalaureate by taking college core courses. A professional level audio recording studio provides the backbone for an Audio Technology, Music, and Society minor. Fairhaven also administers the Outback Experiential Learning Site, a student-run organic farm on the WWU campus. The World Issues Forum, created in response to the 9/11 crisis, is a popular global issues course centered on public lectures by speakers from throughout the world. The College also supports coursework in the Education and Social Justice minor.

Fairhaven has 20 tenured or tenure-track faculty, three (3) senior instructors, about 10-12 adjunct faculty, and seven (7) staff. Faculty work in and across disciplines in the humanities and expressive arts, natural and social sciences, and the law.

More information about Fairhaven College is available at:

Position Responsibilities

Western seeks a Dean who has experience as a visionary leader with keen insight and a track record of inspiring others, and fostering innovation, and valuing diversity. The Dean should have the experience and professional qualifications necessary to support teamwork, set high standards, and collaboratively craft a long-term strategy for Fairhaven College. The Dean will understand and support the values of a public, comprehensive, residential campus; recognize the critical role of faculty and staff in the life of the university; support intense student involvement in College governance; and serve as an advocate for Western and Fairhaven College both internally and externally. The Dean of Fairhaven College advises students and has the opportunity to teach.

The Dean models active leadership in the development, implementation, maintenance, and advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives for faculty, staff, students, and programs. This includes the demonstrated ability and commitment to cultivating learning and/or working environments that are equitable and inclusive of diverse students, faculty, and staff with regard to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class and other marginalized identities.

The Dean understands the nuanced needs of college students and personally mentors, advises, and advocates for them. This includes knowledge of student development and demonstrated experience in supporting a diverse student body including non-traditional students. The Dean actively advances student voices in the work of the College and works to facilitate constructive resolution of student concerns and challenges.

The Dean is expected, in collaboration with College faculty/staff/students, to develop and sustain a long-term vision for the College. This includes the development of planning documents as well as assuring the mission/vision of the College.  Central to this work in the College, the Dean articulates the importance of interdisciplinarity and intersectionality and its urgency in the current global context.

The Dean provides leadership for academic as well as strategic planning, budget and resource management, advancement and fundraising, program assessment, faculty appointment, development, and evaluation. The Dean is expected to promote professional development of faculty and staff and carry out faculty evaluation and tenure and promotion policies in a collective bargaining environment. The Dean will collaboratively implement the mission, vision, and strategic plan for Fairhaven College. Western seeks a Dean who is intellectually daring with an open, flexible, and collegial style and who is committed to inclusive excellence and cultural pluralism.

Required Qualifications

  • PhD or terminal degree and a record of scholarship and quality teaching sufficient to qualify for the rank of full professor.
  • Record of effective leadership and advocacy experience in academic administration (e.g. as a Dean, Associate or Assistant Program Director or Chair) to include:
    • sensitivity to faculty needs;
    • strong organizational skills;
    • strategic planning ability;
    • solid fiscal management; and,
    • effective personnel management.
  • Demonstrated leadership in the development, implementation, maintenance, and advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and equal opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and programs, especially in the areas of recruitment and retention.
  • Demonstrated ability and commitment to cultivating learning and/or working environments that are equitable and inclusive of diverse students, faculty, and staff with regard to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, and other marginalized identities.
  • Demonstrated experience in advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in higher education with a commitment to being a transformational leader in an aspiring anti-racist institution.
  • Proven commitment to creative, innovative, and experiential educational environments and programs, and student-centered and collaborative learning.
  • Ability to lead and collaborate with faculty, staff, and students to support student success, best interests, and well-being at all times.
  • Demonstrated leadership style that promotes equity, facilitates collaboration, and promotes fair, direct, and honest consideration of others.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in personnel management, successful interpersonal communication, and effective decision making.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and social justice and demonstrated ability to work successfully with diverse constituencies, both internal and external to the university.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with interdisciplinary teaching and programs and with fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • At least two (2) years of academic administrative experience.
  • Demonstrated commitment to shared governance with faculty, staff, and students.
  • Experience working productively with faculty and staff unions.
  • A successful record of securing external funding, including grants and gifts.
  • Experience addressing the concerns of historically minoritized populations.
  • Experience in creating supportive structures for non-traditional students.
  • Research, teaching, and/or service engagements on issues related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Experience with fundraising/development.


Commensurate with experience and qualifications; includes a full benefits package.

Application Instructions

Please log in and submit your application via Western PageUp ( A cover letter and resume are required and should respond directly to your experiences related to the required and preferred qualifications. Be sure to include the names and contact information of three professional references.

A complete application also requires a separate statement (1-2 pages) demonstrating your past and current ability and commitment to cultivating learning and/or working environments that are equitable and inclusive of diverse students, faculty, and staff with regard to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and class. You may draw upon your personal as well as professional experience in developing this statement. For more information about Western’s commitment to and work on equity, inclusion, and diversity, please see Western President’s page on Advancing Inclusion and Diversity

Closing Date 

Application review will begin February 1, 2021 and will continue until the position is filled. All applications, nominations and inquiries will be kept confidential. For further information, potential applicants should contact Jennifer Sloan, search coordinator, by email at:


Western Washington University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to assembling a diverse, broadly trained faculty and staff. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. In compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, Western does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, or genetic information in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions, and educational programs. See Western’s Policy on Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation. Inquiries may be directed to the Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance Office, Western Washington University, Old Main 345 (MS 9021), 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225; 360.650.3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay);

Western is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. To request this document in an alternate format or to request an accommodation, please contact Human Resources Disability Services, 360.650.3774 or 711 (Washington Relay).

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