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Interview with JMC New Dean Dr. Cameron Thies

August 16, 2021

Welcome to James Madison College!  We’d love to hear how your initial weeks have been going.  
It has been a whirlwind! I’ve been getting up to speed on issues facing the college thanks to the help of the Associate Dean, Assistant Dean, and Finance Director. They have been amazing during the transition. I’ve also been to a Deans Summit, several other university onboarding activities and events, and helped to host a visit by Keelung Hong who endowed the Stephen O. Murray Scholar in Residence program (more here). 
Tell us a bit about your background and the perspective you’re bringing to the table as our new Dean.
I’ve had experience leading both disciplinary and interdisciplinary academic units, and I definitely prefer the latter.  The issues and problems of the world don’t neatly fit into our disciplinary silos, so JMC’s broad approach to public affairs that crosses a variety of disciplines is a great fit with my own worldview as a scholar and administrator. I hope that I can help as we continue to evolve our curriculum and co-curricular activities to keep providing students the high quality experience they expect of JMC.

What can you tell us about some of your priorities for the coming months? How about for your first year? 
Our first year is likely to be consumed by strategic planning. The university has completed a draft strategic plan that will be presented to the Board of Trustees soon. JMC does not have a strategic plan, but is expected to develop one as part of this process. Not everyone gets excited about strategic planning, but it will allow us to plot out a road map to get us to where we want to be as a community in the next 5-7 years. We can revisit the way we are doing things to see what should stay the same and what may need improvement. Students, faculty, staff and alumni will all have an opportunity to be involved in this process.

What’s something you’d love for our alumni to know about you?  
I’m looking forward to meeting more alumni in the coming years. I love hearing stories about people’s time in JMC, but also how it helped prepare them for their own careers. I know already from hearing from alumni how much they valued their time at JMC, and how much they still care about us today. I hope to be a good steward of our alumni relations to maintain that special bond that people feel with JMC.
What do you like to do in your free time? Have you picked up any new hobbies during the pandemic?
My free time is often occupied by my research interests and professional service commitments. The one new hobby I picked up during the pandemic took me back to my youth—I started building with LEGOs again!