Provost Thomas Falkner to step down, return to teaching

McDaniel College Provost Thomas Falkner has announced that he will resign from the college’s administration effective Dec. 31, according to an e-mail sent by college president Roger Casey to the faculty April 16.

Falkner, who has served in his current position since being hired by McDaniel in March 2004, told the college’s Board of Trustees at their April 13 meeting that, after he steps down as provost, he will take a sabbatical in spring 2013, and then return to McDaniel to teach classics for at least three semesters after his sabbatical.  Falkner, who began teaching in 1972, taught classical studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio prior to being named Provost at McDaniel.

In the e-mail, Casey commended     Falkner for his “academic leadership” as provost.

“With Tom’s guidance, we adopted the McDaniel Plan, our distinctive curricular model; added new academic programs in areas such as Arabic, Asia, and cinema; created a comprehensive program for first-year students; and strengthened our focus on international studies and community engagement, among a litany of other achievements,” Casey said.

Casey also said, “Tom has been a tremendous asset to me in my presidency and will be missed greatly when he returns to the faculty.”

Falkner said that, because the Class of 2011 was the first class to graduate under the McDaniel Plan, a full assessment of the curriculum overhaul will not be made until next year.  However, he believes that “overall it has worked quite well,” but concedes that “it may need some adjustments.”

In announcing his resignation, Falkner told the board he believes that “almost anything of value that a chief academic officer might hope to accomplish is of necessity a shared effort—most especially with the faculty, of course, but also with the many groups, entities and constituencies that are the College.”

“It has been a joy to be a part of that collaboration,” he said.

Falkner told the Free Press that he plans to teach courses in “language, literature, history, [and] culture.”  He also plans to teach First Year Seminar and Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies as a professor.

He also said that he has been planning this move “for several months,” and made his decision “primarily to return to faculty life as a teacher and scholar,” and that he decided to return to teaching because it is “what I most love to do.”

However, Falkner recognizes that the teaching profession has changed since the last time he was a full-time professor, saying “so much is new: new scholarship, new ideas, new pedagogies and technologies.  I have some catching up to do.”

Falkner described his term as provost as a “busy eight years,” but considers the additions made to the college’s faculty and staff during his tenure as his most notable accomplishment, saying that the additions “have strengthened the academic program and profile of the College.”

Between the end of his tenure as provost and his return to the classroom, Falkner plans to “read broadly in classical studies” and to prepare for courses he hopes to teach as a professor.

Casey also said in his statement that he “will be consulting with the Faculty Council and academic administrators” to develop a plan for hiring a new provost in the next few weeks.

Whoever Casey and the faculty decide to name to the position, they will face many of the same challenges Falkner has in his time in office.  The biggest challenge Falkner said he faced was the budget, because “there is never enough funding for all the projects, positions and programs one would like to support.”

Falkner also believes that the next provost will find that one of the challenges they will face is that “there are only 24 hours in a day.”

“There are so many exciting things to for the College and not enough time to do them!” he said.