Jennifer Fredericks presented and spoke to Elon faculty members about her vision for the College of Arts and Sciences, along with her philosophy on the ideals of liberal arts education.

Following Gabie Smith’s decision to step down as the Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, Fredricks is one of four candidates interviewing for the position of dean of the college. 

Fredericks is currently a psychology professor at Union College, where she also served as dean of academic departments and programs for five years. 

As dean of academic departments, Fredericks said she oversaw all of the hiring curriculum, faculty development, research support, departments and interdisciplinary programs.

Throughout her experience in the liberal arts, she said she has thorough experience with faculty development and general education reform. Fredericks also said she has worked to create inclusive pedagogy that emphasizes diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“The most important thing to me in all of my work has been my work on DEI efforts,” Fredericks said.“In my time at Union, I hired over 90 faculty, and half of those faculty are from underrepresented groups.” 

According to Fredericks, liberal arts education is vital to giving students the tools to succeed in the future. 

“I strongly believe there is no better training to solve the problems facing our world,” Fredericks said. “We don't know what the jobs of the future are. We don't know how technology will be. So, we need to teach students how to think, how to learn, how to ask questions.”

According to Fredericks, this is accomplished through “high-impact practices,” such as internships or studying abroad — along with the “teacher-scholar model.” 

“It's equal teaching and research and we need to support both of those. Then it's a relationship student driven model, both through coursework and out of these experiences,” Fredericks said.

Fredericks said she has many ideas on how to improve Elon College and how to boost its interdisciplinary features. 

One such way is through “team teaching,” something she said she has implemented at Union College, where a broad topic such as AI or inequality is taught by multiple professors across many different disciplines. 

“It's a chance for students to see how many different disciplines of approach there may be,” Fredericks said. “I think there's more opportunities to think about. Could there be interdisciplinary minors and majors across with the College of Arts and Science and across the professional schools?”

Additionally, Fredericks said she will seek to fix some of the enrollment problems liberal arts colleges, including Union, are facing. 

“I have departments that are having trouble staffing their classes, and I have departments that are afraid that they won't have certain majors,” Fredericks said. 

Fredericks said pedagogical reforms and creating alternative pathways — such as five year programs — for nontraditional students can help encourage more students to enroll in liberal arts colleges.

According to Fredericks, her philosophy regarding leadership and her job makes her prepared for the position. 

“My philosophy is always how can we make changes that will benefit the individual and the institution?,” Fredericks said.

Mussa Idris, an Elon professor of sociology and anthropology, said he believes Elon could benefit from having Fredericks as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“She brings the skills that will be transferable to Elon, like community centered engagement, as well as an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion,” Idris said. “I valued her perspective to give us feedback on things that we're doing well and also her vision for Elon as well.”

Three more candidates for the position will speak to the Elon community over the next two weeks — with Nicole Guajardo of Christopher Newport University speaking to the university Nov. 30 from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. in Lakeside 212.