The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Welcomes Michael Latham

Photo contributed.

Effective July 1 of 2014, Grinnell will welcome Michael Latham as the new Dean of the College and Vice-President of Academic Affairs. Latham is currently the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, a position he has held since 2009. Having obtained a Ph.D. in 20th century American history from UCLA, he is an accomplished historian and, in addition to his position as Dean, will accept an appointment as tenured professor in the History Department.

Fordham, which is located in New York City and has a student body of 3,600, is undoubtedly quite different from Grinnell. While Latham acknowledges differences between the institutions, he also recognizes underlying similarities in the core values of “[a] curriculum driven by intellectual discovery, a commitment to innovation in the liberal arts [and] the values of diversity and social justice.”

Latham, who was an undergraduate at Pomona College, was attracted to Grinnell because its inquiry-driven curriculum, undergraduate research and intimate connection between faculty and students paralleled his positive experience at Pomona.

His appointment comes after a search process that began this past summer. Working with a search firm, President Raynard Kington and a faculty advisory initially focused on forming a description for the position.

“We wanted someone who understood the world of academic liberal arts colleges, especially the more selective institutions like Grinnell … and someone whose values and approach to learning and academics was consistent with Grinnell’s approach,” Kington said.

After compiling a list of possible candidates, they began the first stage of the interviewing process in Chicago in September. The top candidates were then invited to campus to meet with faculty, students and trustees. After this final stage in the interview process, Latham recalled feeling very impressed with the facilities and the campus, as well as the students.

“[The students] really asked terrific questions and I felt like we had very productive conversations,” Latham said. “I learned a lot about Grinnell and came away from the interviews on campus very excited about the position.”

According to Latham, who regularly meets with an advisory board of students at Fordham, student initiated ideas have proven to be valuable and insightful, and he hopes to make himself easily accessible to students at Grinnell.

As chief officer of academic affairs, much of Latham’s role as Dean will encompass faculty development and engagement with regards to research and teaching. Latham expressed his interest in supporting learning and teaching at the College, as well as forming relationships to act as an effective connection between the administration and faculty.

“I’m also very interested in talking with faculty about promoting undergraduate research,” Latham said. “Grinnell has a terrific inquiry led curriculum, and I’m eager to have discussions with faculty on how best to support students engaged in research.”

David Lopatto, Interim Dean of the College and Vice-President of Academic Affairs, has been involved with initiatives concerning strategic planning during his one-year term. According to Kington, the College is still in the midst of this important process, and much of Latham’s responsibilities will focus on implementing associated proposals. Latham, who fully understands the importance of the project, considers defining Grinnell’s future a high priority and is eager to be a part of the discussions that it entails.

Lopatto, who accepted his position as Interim Dean with the understanding that his term would be for one year, will return to teaching in the Psychology Department.

“I hope [Dean Latham] will bring a fresh perspective to an already excellent academic program,” Lopatto wrote in an email to the S&B.

Though Latham is not set to assume the position of Dean of the College until next summer, he expressed excitement at the prospect of being integrated into Grinnell’s exciting and creative community.

“The idea of an intimate community and being a part of the intellectual energy of Grinnell is really appealing,” Latham said.

Photo contributed by Ken Levinson
Photo contributed by Ken Levinson
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *