By Geoff McMaster –
A seasoned post-secondary administrator from the State of Maine has been named dean of Augustana Faculty and executive officer of Augustana Campus. Coming to the University of Alberta from the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, where he serves as provost and vice-president, academic, Allen Berger will take up his new post in Camrose July 1.
“Highly praised as an ardent advocate for the liberal arts and academic rigour, [Berger] made the choice to move from a career in private liberal arts colleges to public liberal arts institutions, out of his desire that education of the whole person be accessible to those wanting to pursue it,” says U of A provost and vice-president, academic, Carl Amrhein.
“He understands Augustana’s mission and goals, and he shares these personally. He is devoted to the student experience and to the support of faculty and staff. He prizes Augustana’s focus on undergraduate teaching and believes that a residence-based campus is the best place for this focus.”
At the University of Maine, Berger led initiatives that revamped and improved programs and processes, raising the profile of the institution for quality of education and student experience. He also served as program director for the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, an American council of which Augustana is the sole Canadian member.
Berger began his career as a cultural anthropologist, examining a small village population in the highland interior of Sardinia, and the tension between “communitarian traditions and stresses created by a combination of capitalist market penetration and state penetration into what was at the time a very remote region.” He says he gained his first administrative experience advocating for his discipline in the design of curriculum, as the sole anthropologist in a sociology department.
A full-time administrator since the mid-‘90s, he has served in the cabinets of five presidents at three post-secondary institutions. What has driven him during his 15 years of post-secondary leadership, he says, is “the opportunity to galvanize a faculty and a staff around a vision to enhance quality and excellence . . . the ability to be an agent of change for the good of all.”
At the same time, Berger insisted that “top down forms of leadership are not a good match for academic institutions,” adding “that it would be presumptuous of me to announce before even arriving at Augustana that I had a vision. Visions are developed collaboratively and certainly require good listening skills from leadership.”
But why would Berger leave the beautiful State of Maine to brave the cold Alberta winters? “My wife and I love Maine, but we’re drawn to Augustana’s mission, and think it’s a wonderful opportunity,” he says. “I’m a full believer that the highest quality of education is to be found at residential liberal arts colleges . . . and in the public sector.
“Clearly at Augustana there’s an interest in academic rigour, in enhancing opportunities for undergraduate research, in tackling difficult but meaningful educational reform, and in internationalization as well as the development of rural regions. I’ve spent my entire academic career in small towns; the City of Camrose seems a lot like places we’ve lived, only in a Canadian setting.”
Berger praised the close relationship between Camrose and Augustana and the "strong ethic of community service that appears to inform many Augustana programs."
In announcing Berger’s appointment, Amrhein reserved a few words for outgoing dean Roger Epp, who has been at the helm of Augustana since 2002 and taught there since 1990.
“Roger successfully led Augustana through years of a merge into the University of Alberta family,” said Amrhein. “And further, he greatly contributed to the advancement of the Augustana Campus in the university community and in the provincial, national and international communities.”
Source: University of Alberta ExpressNews