By Resha Damania
Algonquin ended its four-month search for a new dean for the faculty of arts, media and design on Oct. 1.
Robyn Heaton, chair of the media studies department, has been promoted to the position of dean. She has replaced former Dean Russ Mills, who had been holding the position for 11 years.
“Russ Mills was a good dean and I am sure that Robyn will be as well,” said David Bromley, coordinator and professor of the graphic design program. “She will add her own personal touch and contributions to the position of dean.”
Heaton, who commenced work as dean on Oct. 6, is still familiarizing herself with the departments under the arts, media and design umbrella.
“I think what this job will allow me to do is be more involved with the strategic direction of the college as a whole,” said Heaton. “It will allow me to create a vision for the school that is more holistic, looking at all the pieces as opposed to focusing on my piece alone.”
Heaton’s career at the college began in 1992 when she became a professor and then program coordinator of the three-year advertising program. She later became chair of the media studies department in the year 2010, a position which she will be continuing until the college finds a new replacement.
“I think there’s a strength when a person has worked with students as a teacher and coordinator,” she said. “I’m hoping students will feel open to come and talk to me at any given time. I do have an open door policy – I always have.”
Andrea Emery, coordinator and professor of the graphic design program, who has known Heaton for several years is very excited to see her as dean. She says Heaton understands the challenges of professors.
“In her first week in the new position,” said Emery, “she sent out an email to everyone encouraging us to stop in and speak with her. It’s wonderful to see her care and involvement in our day to day activities.”
Heaton maintains that her leadership style is collaborative. She likes to have people involved in decisions.
“I think I focus on people and relationships a lot in the way I lead,” she said. “Anything we’re working on, I want to get peoples’ input and feedback before making a decision.”
Vice President Academic Claude Brulé believes that Heaton’s main challenge, which is not unique to her faculty, will likely be related to the projected demographics going forward, and ensuring that her enrolment management strategies translate into continued growth, retention and student success.
“Robyn always places students and their success at the center of her decisions,” said Brulé. “I know that under her leadership, we will continue to see the faculty of arts, media and design flourish, bringing new programs for development, and furthering the direction established by the college.”