A new Dean of Faculty will move into the Chambers building this summer. In the last 85 years, Davidson College has had 9 deans (or 8 if you count Frontis Johnston only once).
The first dean was Joseph Moore McConnell, class of 1899. McConnell had been teaching Latin, math, economics and history for 2 decades before becoming the dean of instruction.
As described in a 20 September 1928 Davidsonian, the dean’s initial responsibilities focused on academic advising. The other dean mentioned — Dean Sentelle — was the dean of students who dealt with the social side of student’s lives.
McConnell served as the dean until 1935. He did not retire but died unexpectedly. It would be another 6 years before the college promoted another professor to Dean of Faculty. This time the Davidsonian described the dean’s work as having more curricular influence noting,
“In general, he will relieve the president of the college of some unnecessary duties. He will advise with the president and the Board of Trustees for the program to be planned for the college and workout therewith various plans.”
C.K. Brown, class of 1921, had joined the faculty in 1923 teaching mathematics and switching to economics in 1926. He served as a professor and dean until 1952. C. J. Pietenpol followed Brown in 1953. He was the first dean not to be a Davidson graduate but he did come from the ranks of the faculty having joined the Physics Department in 1946.
Pietenpol’s retirement in 1958 brought another Davidson graduate and faculty member into the Dean’s Office. Frontis Johnston, class of 1930, joined the history department in 1935 and served as dean from 1958 to 1970 and returned again to serve from 1975 to 1977.
In between Johnston’s terms, John Bevan, a psychology professor took the academic reins. He is the first to have the title Vice President for Academic Affairs. T. C. Price Zimmermann has the honor of being the first dean to come from outside the college. He was dean and an active member of the History Department from 1977 to 1986. Bob Williams came to Davidson is 1986 as dean and also a member of the History Department serving as dean until 1998 (but continuing on as faculty for another 5 years).
Clark Ross, a member of the college’s Economic Department, served as the interim dean for one year and then was selected to continue as dean. His retirement in 2013 opens the way for Wendy Raymond to be the first woman to be Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs.