Visiting professor Christy Hanson named IGC dean

By Matea Wasend

After nearly a year and two rounds of searching, the Institute for Global Citizenship (IGC) finally has a dean. Macalester announced last week that visiting International Studies professor Christy Hanson will take over the position this summer. Hanson arrived at Macalester just last fall as the Hubert H. Humphrey Professor in International Studies, planning to return within the year to her post as Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at the Office of Health, Infectious Diseases and Nutrition (HIDN) of the Bureau for Global Health at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Instead she will officially resign from USAID in April to begin her tenure as IGC dean, which starts in July. “If someone would have asked me a year ago when I was a practitioner of public health to consider being the dean of an Institute for Global Citizenship, I’m not sure that I would have even given it a second thought,” Hanson said in a college news video. “However, after spending a semester on this campus and getting to know these students, I have fallen in love with [them]… and suddenly the experiences I have had across my career have started to fit into a really neat package that is very much exemplified by the IGC.” As IGC dean, Hanson will oversee all of the institute’s offices—the International Center, the Internship Office, the Civic Engagement Center and the Lilly Project—as well as continuing to teach in the International Studies department. Hanson totes a breadth of international experience. The long-time public health practitioner has held positions with the World Health Organization, World Bank and PATH in addition to her post at USAID. She estimated that 70 percent of her professional life has been spent working abroad, though she’s never tallied up the countries. Recently, though, Hanson has found greatest professional joy in mentoring her younger staff at USAID. This realization brought her to teach at Macalester for the 2011-2012 academic year. “And then midway through, it struck me that it would be really hard to go back [to USAID],” Hanson said. “The students captured my attention.” Around that time, Provost Kathleen Murray invited Hanson to lunch. Murray was heading the IGC dean search; Hanson brought a list of people she knew, thinking Murray wanted her to recommend candidates. Instead, Murray asked Hanson to consider applying for the dean position. Murray and the search committee sought candidates with an “ability to bridge academics and practice, and expertise in the areas of multiculturalism, internationalism, and civic engagement,” according to a Mac Weekly article chronicling the failure of the first search round. The school brought four candidates for the position to campus in February 2011 after the IGC’s first dean Ahmed Samatar stepped down, but opted for a second round of searching. The hunt resumed in the fall, the school working with Illinois-based search firm Witt/Kieffer to seek potential candidates. Hanson was the only on-campus applicant to make the final-four candidate pool; she and the others were interviewed on campus in December and January. Students were invited to attend open forums with each candidate. “I have enormous confidence in Christy’s ability to guide us through this next period in the development of the Institute for Global Citizenship,” Macalester Provost Kathleen Murray said in a press release. “She brings extraordinary leadership skills, broad intellectual engagement and a collaborative spirit, and has already proved her ability to reach out across the campus and throughout the Twin Cities community in her role as the Humphrey Chair. I am very excited about continuing our work together.” As dean, Hanson said she hopes to help students fuse their experiences in the greater community and abroad with their academic experiences at Macalester in a more “seamless” way. She also envisions a more “systematized” way of uniting Mac students and professors on themed projects (like food security and hunger, the topic of this year’s International Roundtable.) “We have all of this expertise… do we not owe it to the world and to ourselves to get engaged and involved?” Hanson said. Hanson also hopes to transform Markim Hall into a more student-friendly space. The building was partly designed to “function as a place for homework and conversation,” according to Associate Dean of the IGC Karin Trail-Johnson, but it mostly sees students passing through. Hanson plans to change that by transforming the reception desk into a “Café Latte-style barista bar,” complete with coffeemaker and beanbag chairs. “The IGC is about students,” Hanson said. “I want students in that building.” When she pitched the idea to Brian Rosenberg, she said, he told her he’d buy the coffee machine himself. refresh –>