New Interim Dean Looks to Increase Enrollment

Kelsey Borgeson and Kelsey Borgeson

Kathleen Rountree, new Interim Dean of CLASS.

Kathleen Rountree, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) interim dean, faces a legacy of failed predecessors and an initiative that could potentially devastate funding for CLASS, and yet, she is perfectly happy and pleasant about her status.

Rountree came to CSU East Bay in July 2010 from Ithaca College in New York, where she was the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Rountree also has a significant background in music and fine arts, and has even been featured in a CD put out by Centaur Records, titled “American Music for Flute and Piano.”

Ithaca’s student body is about the size of the CLASS student body at CSUEB, and, according to Rountree, it is specifically called a college, for it is too small to be referred to as a university.

“The size of the group of people that I worked with there and here aren’t all that different,” said Rountree, “although the job is a little different.”

As interim dean of CLASS, Rountree gets a chance to work more with faculty and students than when she was provost at Ithaca.

“I’m very happy here to be close to academics, closer to faculty and closer to students,” said Rountree, “and I enjoy very much the breadth of the programs within CLASS.”

Rountree’s goal as interim dean is to enable the programs within the college to be the best they can be. She explained that her goal would mean something different from one department to another. These could range from growth and enrollment, outreach to the community, increasing numbers of the faculty or even changing the degree requirements in certain programs.

One change that is proposed to come up for CLASS is the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiative. The STEM initiative is a three-year program designed to increase the number of students who are interested in majoring in any of the STEM departments, to increase the number of students who graduate with a STEM degree and to increase the number of students who enter the workforce as STEM professionals.

What this means for CLASS has mixed opinions from the students and faculty. Rountree stated that one task the CLASS college has in front of it is “to define how CLASS will participate in the STEM initiative.”

“To assume that CLASS is not connected to STEM is a wrong assumption,” explained Rountree. “Our majors are already incredibly STEM-intensive. If you look at geography today, it’s all about maps and GPS coordinates. Now that’s technology. Look at criminal justice, and you’re talking about forensics and science. You deal with technology in communication every day. You can’t even do communication anymore without technology.”

What Rountree is saying is that STEM and CLASS are already linked together—that one must find the bridges that connect the two colleges together to have the STEM initiative beneficial for each college. In addition, Rountree feels that CLASS will actually strengthen and benefit from the STEM initiative.

Along with the STEM initiative, Rountree hopes to create a connection with the Hayward community and global communities.

“As multicultural as we are, we still need to connect to the rest of the world beyond the Bay Area,” said Rountree. “We have 22 students from China who came this year to work in our music programs.”

Rountree also hopes to have students from the United Arab Emirates come to the Hayward Hills Campus over the upcoming Summer Quarter, which she hopes will contribute to giving the students of CSUEB a more global perspective and learn about their culture.

After six months of working as the interim dean for the CLASS college at CSUEB, Kathleen Rountree has really come to appreciate the students and faculty. She has immense respect for the students, those who continue to work towards their degree even though faced with financial restraints and family difficulties. She feels the faculty are all truly and genuinely focused on the students.

“I am enormously proud of this college,” said Rountree. “In time, it can be even more and better than it is now. Yes, we have budget cuts—the important thing is what we do in spite of them.”