Three new deans joined UNC this summer and share a vision for and commitment to student success.
As the university community returned to campus this semester, they welcomed three new leaders. Each brings experience and vision for their college with a focus on student-centered education. UNC is pleased to introduce Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Jared Stallones, PhD; Dean of the College of Natural Health and Sciences Kamel Haddad, PhD; and Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts Cristina Goletti, PhD.
Jared Stallones, PhD
Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Science
Jared Stallones, the new dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at UNC, wants to get inside your head.
From his years as a PreK-12 educator, Stallones learned the importance of tapping into students’ natural interests to inspire their learning. “There’s nothing more fascinating than trying to figure out how people think and learn,” says Stallones.
The importance of narrative and personal interest to learning and the impact education has on human growth and communities were what drove Stallones to continue his career in education and reinvent the way he taught his students. “I always wanted students to be able to answer the question, ‘Why are we learning this?’ so I tried to include an answer to that question in every lesson I taught. Relevance matters.”
Stallones’ family lineage is in education, but he chose a career in it out of frustration with his own school experience and a strong desire to improve the learning experience for others. “I’m now in a position to do that on a wider scale,” he says.
While at the University of Kentucky, Stallones learned a great deal about rural education, adding to what he gained in his years in the urban schools served by California State Polytechnic University-Pomona and Long Beach State. He’s greatly looking forward to working closely with UNC’s Center for Urban Education in Denver and the Center for Rural Education that operates throughout the state.
Stallones has a unique passion for education history which he incorporates into his approach as an educator and leader. He has authored four books and more than 65 articles and presentations on education history, biography and philosophy. He also serves as an editor for a history of education book series and has authored and/or managed grants funded at nearly $6 million.
A true student of history, Stallones is creating a path for himself and the college reflecting on what we have learned in the last 18 months from the pandemic. “We have to take the lessons that we’ve learned from the last year and a half and really focus on them because if we don’t do it now, we’ll be talking about the same problems and inequities in education 50 years from now,” he says.
A pillar that Stallones’ theory of education is built upon is community engagement. “One of the things I’ve learned is how to support faculty in engaging their local schools and communities,” says Stallones. “We can’t do an adequate job of preparing teachers, school administrators, counselors, or mental health professionals without being in the community and understanding their needs and perspectives, where their challenges lie.”
Stallones emphasizes the need for cultural humility in these conversations with the community and he hopes to establish and inspire many “rich collaborations” in his time as dean.
“We have a lot of work to do, and the key is doing it together.”
Kamel Haddad, PhD
Dean of the College of Natural Health and Sciences
Kamel Haddad’s second semester of his freshman year of college was interrupted by war. Actual war. While attending the American University of Beirut, the college closed its doors and Haddad and his parents fled his home country of Lebanon under bullets for the United States. Haddad knew nothing else than to follow in the footsteps of his uncle already in the U.S., and enrolled in electrical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. There, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and went on to earn his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Maryland.
“Math has always been second nature to me,” says Haddad. “My mother is a middle school math teacher and my father is a high school chemistry teacher, so teaching has also been in my blood from a young age.” Haddad remembers coming back from school and sitting at the dinner table while his mother and father tutored students at the same table.
Immediately prior to joining UNC, Haddad was a professor of Mathematics at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) with a special assignment as a consultant for student success initiatives in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
With teaching in his blood, Haddad was attracted to UNC’s strong reputation for and emphasis on pedagogy. “UNC values teaching pedagogy and the content area equally,” says Haddad. “That is one of the things that attracted me to this university.”
As dean of NHS, Haddad aims to continue the teacher-scholar model already at work in the college. “In this model, teaching informs research and research informs teaching and we engage our students as research scholars even at the undergraduate level. We make sure that our pedagogy is informed by the research model.”
Haddad lists the strength of the faculty as another factor that drew him to UNC. “Their credentials are unmatched and the college’s foundation is strong, allowing us to pivot more easily when necessary,” says Haddad. He stressed the importance of pivoting because “higher education is at a crossroads right now. Enrollment trends are down in Colorado and across most of the nation, and to be able to rebound from that kind of decline in enrollment in a way that is different than that of other regional public comprehensive universities is essential.”
Haddad envisions the college with programs that are responsive to regional needs and national workforce trends and hopes to engage the college faculty, students, and administration in exploring how best to do that.
His excitement for the university and vision for the college revolves around two words: students first. “Our current student population is prepared differently than they were 20 years ago or 30 years ago,” says Haddad. “We can no longer expect them to change their learning style to our teaching style. We need to adapt.”
He wants to identify and remove operational barriers to student advancement. “Not every barrier is a learning or teaching style barrier,” says Haddad. “Some barriers are processes that institutions use that could be enhanced or removed if they hinder student success.” A mathematician at heart, Haddad plans to explore and address these issues with a data-driven approach.
Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts
Cristina Goletti believes she has the best job in the world. And she would be the one to know.
Just reading Goletti’s resume will make you feel as though you have taken a trip around the world. The new dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts has danced her way from a dance conservatory in London, to dance companies in Ireland, to faculty assignments in Mexico, to the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso, TX, and found her way back to Colorado to the halls of UNC.
Goletti’s background weaves a tapestry of places, points of view, and dance styles which reflect the interdisciplinary nature of her approach to the arts. While at the University of Texas El Paso, Goletti joined Engineering + Art + Science = Social Impact (EASSI), an interdisciplinary research group, and was granted start-up funding and the use of space at UTEP’s new interdisciplinary building. Her research interests involve dance pedagogy, interdisciplinary improvised performance practices and queer and migration studies.
“I hope to continue emphasizing interdisciplinary work between the colleges at UNC,” says Goletti. “We all have great ideas about how we can work together. There are many points of commonality where we can create interdisciplinary opportunities for students and faculty.”
Goletti hopes to create groups resembling think tanks or fab labs where people from different backgrounds can come together to understand important social, economic and cultural issues through diverse perspectives, including utilizing arts methodologies as a way to create real-life solutions.
A quote Goletti loves is, “The arts are the safest place to have the most dangerous conversations.”
“Because we are performing fiction, we are fictionalizing reality. We are creating a fictional world where we can have difficult conversations,” she says. “I want to create a safe space for students to come and play and fail and experiment and have meaningful conversations.”
Goletti thinks this approach is a priority for the new group of faculty coming to UNC. “We want to be rowing not drifting. We want to be deliberate and visionary in our academic offering. We hope to be innovative and student-focused, which means providing students of all disciplines the best opportunities,” says Goletti.
The foundation for creating this interdisciplinary approach to the arts is based on the unifying nature of art itself. “There’s something really beautiful about experiencing art together,” says Goletti. “Another quote I love is ‘We sit together in the dark to know how to love each other in the light.’ We sit together in the dark, listening to music, seeing a show, or mingling at an exhibition so that we can know how to live with, and maybe love, one another in the light.”
“My passion is in arts education within higher education and advocating for arts degrees, whether they’re performing or technical or more kind of academic and scholarly focus. Studying art is such an important and foundational degree and so I’m really passionate about the reason why there are arts degrees.”
While Goletti loves to discuss the implications of studying and observing art, she is dedicated to practical student success. She wants to encourage students to experiment and follow their dreams while getting the necessary skill-based training to excel as artists in the 21st century.
According to Goletti, it’s rare for there to be a college purely devoted to the arts (as they are often combined with sciences or humanities). While she respects and admires those other disciplines, Goletti has always thought that she would be best suited for a role where she could be the face and voice of the arts and no other discipline. “UNC does not just have an arts college — they have a great, solid arts college with a lot of history, tradition, and excellence in many areas.” UNC
–By Laura Veith
–Photgraphy by Woody Myers