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Dean Alvarez to Step Down at End of Term

Glenn Rohrbacker, Editor in Chief

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Lourdes Alvarez, dean of the University of New Haven College of Arts & Sciences announced that she would be stepping down at the end of the fall semester.

She made the announcement in a Thursday night email to faculty and staff of the college, which was followed by an email from Provost Daniel May to the entire faculty.

“It’s probably the most wrenching decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

Alvarez joined the university as dean six years ago, and said that she wanted to take some time off to travel and take adventures she eventually wouldn’t be able to. She wants to see the White Mountains, the Alps, and “learn to cross country ski like a Norwegian.”

Alvarez was inspired by her advisor from Yale, whom she grew to love, just as all others did who had her, she said. Her advisor died when she was 59, and she thinks about it every day. As Alvarez approaches 59, she has thought a lot about taking the time to do these things she’s always wanted to.

“You can’t postpone those,” she said.

Alvarez dropped out of college for a year for similar reasons. She wanted to pursue a life of bicycle racing. While she says she was never very good at the sport, she didn’t regret that decision.

“I wouldn’t trade that year for anything,” she said.

Alvarez said she is proud of the work she’s done at the college, including supporting guest speakers, engaging students, creating the Women’s Leadership Conference, and helping to transform the communications department.

“At the end of the day, students value being appropriately challenged while also being supported,” she said regarding her philosophy on guiding the college.

One of her major goals coming into the position was to increase academic appreciation and dedication without losing the experiential side of the university’s mission.

Michael Rossi, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that her impact will be the emphasis Alvarez put on education and growth in learning.

“The real legacy will be the legacy on teaching and learning,” he said. “I feel like I’m, losing someone who’s been a great mentor.”

Rossi highlighted Alvarez’s investment in new programs and active learning to improve the college, and was excited to be able have open discussions with her, as someone he described as entering a room with no pre-conceived notions.

“Dean Alvarez has been an incredible mentor and partner for the faculty in the English Department,” said Dr. Christopher Dowd, chair of the English Department. “She always understood the potential for writing and literature to transform the educational experience of students in any major, and to that end, she became one of our strongest advocates on campus.”

Dr. Chris Haynes, coordinator of the Political Science Program, credited Alvarez’s support with having a critical impact on the birth of the Model United Nations program, the connection with students and the city of West Haven, and the growth of many faculty that were hired.

“Lourdes’ leadership and vision allowed our Political Science program to grow and transform in ways that will benefit our majors for many years to come,” he said. “But, more than just a transformative administrator, Lourdes was also a true mentor and friend.  She will be missed tremendously.”

Alvarez plans to finish out a few initiatives before the end of the semester. She wants to solidify plans for the women’s conference happening this spring, finishing hiring a few faculty members, and pushing forward on some curriculum policies.

The president and provost of the university will work to establish an interim dean upon Alvarez’s departure, a process she said she would not be a direct part of.

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Dean Alvarez to Step Down at End of Term