Shawnrece Campbell is the fourth and final candidate in the running for dean of Elon’s College of Arts and Sciences and presented to the Elon University community Dec. 6 about the importance of competency-based education.

During her talk, Campbell described competency-based education as a system of practice, feedback and instruction, as opposed to a learning system based on test grades. 

Campbell is currently serving as director and coordinator of competency-based education at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi — as well as co-chair of Latino adult students success, academic affairs liaison and professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies. 

Campbell was also dean of the College of Liberal Arts there for two years, from July 2021 to July 2023. Prior to starting at Texas in 2021, Campbell spent 19 years working at Stetson University in Florida. 

“The values at the heart of Elon’s mission — whose pursuit of academic excellence and commitment to social justice demands an inclusive environment, in which the distinctiveness of each person's experience and the common humanity that unites us all is understood and embraced — mirrored the way in which I live my personal and professional life,” Campbell said during the presentation.

Campbell said she was impressed by the standards set for engaged learning, mentoring, engineering and data competency and approaches to teaching and learning across the curriculum. 

“The liberal arts are at the heart of it all,” Campbell said. “These are the disciplines that teach our students what it is to be humane, forward-thinking problem solvers.”

According to Campbell, Elon’s College of Arts and Sciences would benefit from competency-based education and learner employment records, in addition to Elon’s experiential learning requirements.

“By using ELRs to create LERs — that's learner employment records — Elon College can be at the forefront of creating a record of transferable skills that would enable students, faculty and staff to pursue and manage their education and career path.”

Dean of the School of Communications and co-chair of the College of Arts and Sciences dean search committee Kenn Gaither said the committee is doing its best to work quickly and pensively when coming to a decision.

“We are trying to be expeditious, but also judicious in the process,” Gaither said. “In terms of a timeline, I think we're probably looking more at weeks than we are months.”

According to Gaither, the committee’s decision will largely be based on community feedback. 

“One of the things we frequently hear is things that aren't written into a job description, that have to do with so-called soft skills,” Gaither said. “Somebody who is good at interacting with people, who's a good listener, somebody who's student centered, who understands the Elon mission, who's a strong mentor and is a strong advocate for the arts and sciences.”