Second Ogden Dean candidate participates in open forum

Tyler Prochazka

The second in a series of forums with candidates to become the Dean of Ogden College of Science & Engineering took place on Tuesday in Snell Hall.
Glen Prater, the Professor and Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Louisville, was the latest finalist to participate in the open forums.
Prater talked about his experience in the University of Louisville and how he worked to transition the science department to become more research oriented. He said this meant changing which professors were hired to suit the department’s changing needs.
“We decided to recruit according to the vision of the department,” he said. “We saw the culture change.”
As a result the department started publishing research.
He said that WKU is also seeing the beginning of a transition in the science department.
“There’s a buzz in higher education about your university,” Prater said.
Due to his experience and perspective on transitions, he said he would be a good candidate to facilitate the change.
One of his primary concerns, he said, was making sure the faculty remained happy. He proposed implementing a volunteer basketball team for the staff to relieve stress. Prater also said he “doesn’t believe in 80-hour work weeks.”
To show how he arrived at this conclusion, he told a story about a professor that developed an alcohol addiction as a result of the stress.
“Our job is not a good prescription for a long life,” Prater said before telling another story about a colleague who had died from a heart attack, something he also attributed to stress.

Which, he said, is why his measures to relive stress are so necessary.
When asked what he would like to do in his first month as opposed to what he think he will be able to do, he first said he wanted to listen to the faculties’ desires. Prater also said he would not have any mandates within the first month.
Another goal, he said, is getting students excited about Ogden. He said students that are excelling in science classes should have more assurance of being enrolled in Ogden.
“Early on, I will reach out to students,” Prater said. One of the ways to do so, he said, is by aiding student organizations affiliated with science.
“We want to create an environment that enriches students,” he said.
Blaine Ferrell, interim dean of the Ogden College, will enter transitional retirement in December.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice-president for Academic Affairs, said he hopes to have the new dean chosen in October.