Prominent administrators Davies, Klawitter leave Beloit
Beloit College’s Spring 2018 semester became the final term for two prominent members of the school’s administration following largely unanticipated announcements.
On May 15, the final day of the Spring semester for students, President Scott Bierman announced in an email to the campus community that Provost and Dean of the College and Professor of Political Science Dr. Ann Davies would be stepping down from her responsibilities at Beloit at the end of June. On Aug. 22, five days before classes began for the Fall term, another email from Bierman announced that Dean of Students Dr. Christina Klawitter’98 had accepted the position of Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs for the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In May, Bierman wrote that Davies announced her decision to step down during the college’s Academic Senate the previous week. “Over her nine years as Provost, Ann has been a stellar leader of the academic affairs division in every way,” he wrote. Davies told the Round Table that she had been discussing plans with Bierman since Aug. 2017 to leave her dean position within the next one to two years.
“I think colleges are well served by having fresh eyes and fresh legs in positions like mine, at least every 10 years or so,” Davies said. She had served as Provost and Dean of the College since 2009 and began teaching at Beloit College in 1997, most recently as the Edwin F. Wilde Jr. Distinguished Service Professor.
“I expect and hope that Beloit will continue to be the miracle it is – filled with inquisitive students […] and teachers dedicated to energetically engaging those students’ lively intelligence,” Davies continued.
In an email to Beloit College faculty and staff on June 19, President Bierman explained that Davies would be replaced by a four-person “Provost’s Office co-management team,” which is comprised of Professor Donna Oliver as Chair of the Academic Strategic Planning Committee; Professor Sylvia Lopez as Chair of the Faculty Status and Performance Committee; and Professors Lisa Anderson-Levy and Yaffa Grossman continuing their responsibilities as Associate Deans. All four members of the team also serve on the Beloit Forward Committee, which is co-led by Oliver and Lopez and has been involved in the formulation of the Beloit Forward Plan.
Sheila Gustafson and Professor Kathryn Johnson have stayed on as Assistant to the Provost and Dean and Executive Administrative Assistant, respectively.
In July, Andrew Collins’20 told the Round Table that the new co-management team seemed like a “strange combination,” and said that the restructuring decision worried him. “Ann was a bit bureaucratic but one of the most intellectually honest people in the administration,” Collins said, “and I have some uneasy anticipation about what the next year will hold in her absence.”
A tide of criticism of the Beloit College administration this April followed what many students felt was an inadequate response to the discovery of racist graffiti on campus. In mid-April, fliers listing the salaries and other compensations of powerful members of the administration, including Bierman and Davies, were posted in Pearsons Hall. The printouts read “hold them accountable” and called for President Bierman to step down or to take a paycut. Davies acknowledged the incidents when she spoke about her resignation in June.
“To live up to [the aspiration to become an anti-racist institution] isn’t easy at a historically white college, in a country with a long and deep history of racism,” she told the Round Table. “If we didn’t struggle, then I think we’d be doing something wrong.” She added, “I also understand impatience in the pursuit of something so important.”
“My hope is that we can continue to hire administrators from within, but on shorter terms and with more equal pay [to] the faculty,” Professor and Department Chair of Political Science John Rapp told the Round Table recently. “I only wish Ann could stay here to debate this view with me.”
Davies’s resignation became effective on June 30, at which time she had plans to take a sabbatical in order to “read, think, recharge […] and chart the course forward.” Meanwhile, Klawitter will begin working for her alma mater at Madison’s School of Education on Monday, Sept. 24.
Associate Dean of Inclusive Living and Learning Cecil Youngblood stepped in as Interim Dean of Students on Sept. 15. Youngblood has been at Beloit since 1997, first as the head men’s basketball and golf coach, then from 2007 to 2015 as Director of Intercultural Affairs and Assistant Dean of Students before he assumed his current position.
“In 2011 when I first met Christina as a candidate for our Dean of Students position at Beloit College, I was floored by her obvious talents and was confident that she was exactly the visionary leader we needed,” Bierman wrote in August. “Looking back, it seems impossible that anyone could have met the ridiculously high expectations forged by those early interactions. Yet Christina, in her role as leader of Student Affairs, has vaulting far beyond those aspirations over her seven years at Beloit.”