Mangelsdorf appointed dean

Sarah Mangelsdorf was recently promoted from Acting Dean of LAS to Dean of LAS. Tessa Pelias

Sarah Mangelsdorf was recently promoted from Acting Dean of LAS to Dean of LAS. Tessa Pelias

By Courtney Klemm

When acting Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Sarah Mangelsdorf got her PhD in psychology years back, she knew she wanted to work with people, but she never anticipated how many people. Mangelsdorf, who had been filling the dean position since August 2004, was approved by the Board of Trustees on Jan. 19 to become the first woman ever to head the largest college of the University.

Mangelsdorf will replace Jesse Delia, who was serving as acting provost and will now be moving to another position with the University after Linda Kaheti was approved as the new permanent provost.

“I’m really honored and just thrilled,” Mangelsdorf said.

Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom, associate dean of student academic affairs, said she found no significance in the fact that Mangelsdorf is the first woman to serve as dean of LAS.

“I don’t consider that to be significant in itself, but rather consistent with what LAS has always had – people of both genders contributing at all levels,” she said.

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Ramsbottom, who reports directly to the dean, said she was delighted when Mangelsdorf was appointed to the position.

“She has a clear dedication to quality undergraduate education,” Ramsbottom said. “She’s open to new ideas; she’s very calm and deliberate, and yet sensitive to many different sides of issues. She’s an excellent listener and she’s judicious in complicated areas.”

Mangelsdorf taught at the University of Michigan for four years before she came to the University when she and her husband, Karl Rosengren, were both recruited to teach psychology. She said she and Rosengren decided to come to the University because of its highly renowned psychology department, although she never had the goal of being an administrator.

Mangelsdorf then took the position of associate head of the psychology department from 2000 to 2001 and became an associate provost from 2001 to 2003. Mangelsdorf was just settling into her newest position as head of the psychology department when Delia asked her to serve as acting LAS dean.

“Jesse Delia really loved his job and was great at it,” Mangelsdorf said. “When he first asked me to take the job, I didn’t want to do it at all. I’d only been department head for one year, and I felt like I was still learning the ropes of that job. But he convinced me, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Larry Hubert, psychology professor and acting head of the psychology department, took over for Mangelsdorf when she changed positions. He said he has always been impressed with Mangelsdorf’s intuitions and insights.

“We were all pleased that she would take on that role as acting dean of LAS, but as a department, we were very sorry to see her go,” he said. “Generally, I think things worked out fairly well. We have an excellent dean now in place, and we’ll now have to work out the process of finding a department head.”

Although Mangelsdorf said there are many aspects about working directly in the psychology department that she misses, holding the position as dean of LAS has brought many exciting, new challenges.

“It’s never boring,” she said. “It’s a really big, diverse college, well over 50 units, and they are all doing fascinating things. Just in terms of . the richness of ideas and the people, it’s just fascinating.”

Working with University President B. Joseph White’s new strategic plan is one aspect of the job that has been very time-consuming for Mangelsdorf.

“We are examining each and every one of our units and what we can do to maintain our strong units and strengthen some of our weaker units,” she said. “That’s a very important exercise, to really look at what we do and how we do it.”

Another major concern that Mangelsdorf is dealing with is the physical condition of many of the LAS facilities on campus.

“Lincoln Hall is really in a state of decline, and it gets worse all the time,” she said. “Facilities are a huge issue. Trying to maintain and enhance the quality both of our faculty and of our facilities, and the quality of undergraduate education that we provide our students, all in the face of dwindling resources, is really challenging. That’s why the strategic planning is so critical.”

Despite all of the issues and time commitments that Mangelsdorf is currently encountering, Hubert said he is certain Mangelsdorf will continue to handle her position successfully.

“She already has a positive track record in that position for two years, and I think that positivism will continue,” he said. “It is always difficult to do well when the resources are limited, as ours are. Within the confines of that, I think she’ll do very well.”