Changing of the Guard: Dean Dana Greene steps down as Oxford College welcomes Stephen Bowen
A stack of handwritten notes in Dana Greene's distinctive curved hand sits on her desk in Oxford College's historic Seney Hall.
During her six years as Oxford's dean and chief executive officer, Greene 71G was known for sending personalized birthday greetings and thank-you cards to colleagues, alumni, and others in the college community, a quaint throwback in the era of e-mail.
On this day in late June, though, she is finishing up business. This is her final week as dean, and Greene has spent the morning briefing her successor, Stephen Bowen--former provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bucknell University--who took over the post on August 1.
"It has been wonderful to be in this environment," says Greene. "There's nothing sweeter than to walk from the president's house to a lecture or a concert. Oxford is a very inspirational place."
Greene is gratified that Oxford has made the transition from being known primarily as Emory's original home ("like keeping on the great-grandmother," she says wryly) to a vital, two-year college that fits within a modern, twenty-first-century research University.
"Two things have shaped Oxford over the years--isolation and poverty," she says. "On the positive side, this produced a 'can-do' attitude. On the negative side, it bred a certain amount of defensiveness, a keeping-apart from Emory. Now, there is a great sense that Oxford is being taken seriously and must step up to the plate."
Greene, a historian who graduated with a Ph.D. from Emory in 1971, was associate provost for faculty affairs at St. Mary's College of Maryland before coming to Oxford in 1999. Under her deanship, the Tarbutton Center for Performing Arts was constructed, faculty positions were added and new faculty were recruited (a third of the forty-seven tenure-track faculty now teaching at Oxford were hired by Greene, and the first Candler professor at Oxford was appointed), a stronger relationship was forged with the surrounding community, and additional property was purchased to help Oxford achieve its master campus plan. The college also has increased its endowments for scholarships, performing arts, and athletics.
"When I arrived at the college, it was immediately evident that it was ready to take off. All the pieces were in place for Oxford to reinvent itself, all the while preserving its past," she says. "The last six years have been provocative, demanding, and thrilling."
Greene says she has spent much of her tenure as the conduit between Oxford and the University, explaining "each to the other."
"Not only has Dana been dedicated to promoting and focusing more keenly Oxford's educational mission, she has energetically sought to build effective linkages between the Oxford campus and the Atlanta campus," says Oxford's Dean for Campus Life Joe Moon. "She has had the courage of her convictions, even in the face of controversy and the tough decisions that deans inevitably face."
This fall marks the largest class in the College's history, with at least 330 entering freshmen. Oxford also has the distinction of being Emory's most diverse school (60 percent of this year's freshman class are minorities).
Greene is moving to Atlanta with her husband, Richard Roesel 69L , to begin a year of travel and research--including a project on the increasingly popular literary genre of biographies.
Her successor, Bowen (left), is a biologist and fish ecologist who rose through the administrative ranks of Michigan Technological University and Bucknell University, and most recently served as a senior fellow at the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Oxford's mission is "close to my heart as an educator," Bowen says.
"The faculty have a commitment that is humbling and an esprit de corps that is engaging, and the president and provost have high expectations of Oxford and are committed to supporting its progress," he says. "Perhaps most compelling is the fact that Emory juniors and seniors who spend their first two years at Oxford eagerly testify to the exceptional education they got there. The ideal to which many liberal arts college aspire is realized at Oxford."--M.J.L.