Kristen Hetland

A committee at Miami University could announce a new director of liberal education by the end of February.

The current director, Jerry Stonewater, will be retiring after the spring semester. He held the position of director of liberal education for five years.

Junior Nathan Zwayer, student representative on the committee in charge of hiring a new director, said the committee is looking for someone who will stress the importance of the Miami Plan and its four core principles to each student. These four principles include critical thinking, engaging with other learners, reflecting and acting and understanding context.

“I would like to see students better understand the importance of the Miami Plan,” Zwayer said. “We use the principles in our everyday lives and into the workforce. The skills learned through the Miami Plan give us ways to look into the world and understand and solve problems. The new director must be able to engage students in the four core principles of the plan.”

The director of liberal education, according to Zwayer, must work with shaping the Miami Plan, thematic sequences and capstones, improve the current curriculum and make sure all courses are up to par for students and faculty. Additionally, the director presides over the liberal education council, which approves all new Miami Plan courses.

“Students deal with the Miami Plan everyday,” Zwayer said. “The first time we step foot into this university we have to work with the Miami Plan and take classes for it. The liberal education council strives to include the values of the Miami Plan into each class.”

According to chairman for the search committee, Mary Woodworth, the director of liberal education makes an important influence on what classes students take.

“(The job of the director is to) carry out the Miami Plan curriculum and envision changes that are consistent with the 21st century,” Woodworth said.

Woodworth said the search committee is currently looking at three candidates for the position: John Tassoni, professor and director of college composition at Miami Middletown; John Jeep, associate professor of German, Russian and East Asian Languages and associate director of liberal education; and Richard Taylor, professor of chemistry.

Interviewing for the position, Woodworth said, is a two-day process which includes visits to Miami’s Hamilton and Middletown campuses, meeting with students and faculty from each campus, Provost Jeffrey Herbst, the council of academic deans, department chairs and program directors at Miami’s Oxford campus. The final step involves interviewing with the liberal education search committee.

According to Woodworth, the committee is looking for a candidate who has strong leadership skills, previous experience with the liberal education council and whose vision for the Miami Plan will enable it to continue serving students’ needs in the future.

According to Zwayer, the committee has already interviewed its first candidate and hopes to complete the interview process for all candidates by Feb. 13. Zwayer said the committee expects to have their final decision made by the end of February.

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