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Shouse named Dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences

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For Aimee Shouse, SMSU’s incoming dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences, the university experience has had a major impact on her career.

“My father was a university professor, so I’ve been on college campuses and around college students (literally) my entire life,” Shouse said.

On March 24, SMSU announced that Shouse would replace Jan Loft as dean. Loft is retiring after being with the university since 1988 and serving as dean since 2011. Shouse will begin her appointment on July 3.

The search committee was led by Dean of Business, Graduate and Professional Studies Raphael Onyeaghala and Professor of History Jeff Kolnick.

“[Dr. Shouse] had the confidence of her colleagues and showed strong evidence of being someone who can unite disparate factions to build a successful team focused on student learning and success,” Kolnick said.

Shouse has been with Western Illinois University since 1993, going there straight after graduate school. She has held a few different roles at WIU, starting as a professor in the political science department and later serving as the acting chair for the department. In 2003 she was appointed as the acting director of the women’s studies department for a semester. Shouse had to overcome many obstacles during this time.

“Women’s studies was experiencing some significant challenges, with faculty being transferred from other departments into a newly created department at the same time that the college and university administration was in flux and not as supportive of this new department as the previous dean had been,” Shouse said. “That was a tough semester.”

Under Shouse’s leadership, the department survived this challenge. Students began to add the women’s studies major and faculty were successfully transferred into the department.

“Although I did break out into hives, I do think it was during that semester that I realized I actually enjoyed the administrative role and possibly had some aptitude for it,” Shouse said.

Shouse said that sees her role as dean of SMSU’s College of Arts, Letters and Sciences as representing the academic needs of the student body as a whole, even those who are not majoring in her college.

“I just don’t want being ‘dean’ to somehow make me seem less accessible to students,” Shouse said. “My hopes [for this position] are to learn about the institution, see what we are doing well, continue to build on those successes, and then identify areas where I can positively contribute my skills, experiences, and ideas to continue strengthening the educational mission of SMSU.”

Shouse was drawn to SMSU because she liked that the liberal arts appear prominently in SMSU’s welcome statement, but in balance with the professional degrees.

“SMSU shares some of my personal values for the role of higher education in the lives of our students, and I found that appealing,” Shouse said.

Shouse is married and has two daughters who will both be attending college in the fall. Shouse and her husband Robert are looking forward to attending SMSU events and cheering on the Mustangs.

“After being at the same institution for 24 years, [moving] is a daunting task, and I wouldn’t have undertaken it just anywhere,” Shouse said. “I found Marshall to be a very comfortable community, having spent most of my life in smaller, university towns. I liked the university, the people, and the direction President [Connie] Gores and Provost [Dwight C.] Watson are taking SMSU.”

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Shouse named Dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences