Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Getting to Know: Business, Mathematics and Science

September 12, 2018

Joel Hyer
Joel Hyer

College Relations publishes a monthly series of news articles, features and Q&A interviews highlighting various departments on campus in an effort to assist the faculty and staff in gaining an increased awareness about and understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.

The September Q&A is with Dr. Joel Hyer, Dean of Business, Mathematics and Science.

Q: What are your chief responsibilities as Dean of the School of Business, Math and Science at Chadron State College?

The dean positions at CSC are fairly unique in higher education. In short, these positions combine traditional dean duties of overseeing a school (or college) with institution-wide responsibilities. For example, my position involves serving as the dean of the School of Business, Mathematics, and Science and as the dean over all graduate programs. Many, though not all, of the duties are overlapping. There are also other institution-wide duties with which I assist. Back in 2001, I realized as a new assistant professor at CSC that I would wear many hats. This is true for many, if not most, positions at CSC.

Q: How has your job changed with the recent reorganization of schools and departments at CSC?  

The primary change has involved moving the FCS and Rangeland programs to the School of Professional Studies and Applied Sciences. This has allowed me to focus more intentionally on the Business, Mathematics, and Science programs.

Q: How does the reorganization fit into CSC’s Master Academic Plan (MAP)? How will it benefit CSC and how will it benefit students?

It fits well under MAP Priorities 1 and 2. In the coming years, I anticipate that the faculty will continue to re-imagine the curriculum, based in part on new interactions within the schools, departments, and programs. It should be exciting. With all the changing demands in higher education, the department chair positions are becoming increasingly professionalized. The reorganization will allow for this to occur in a more deliberate manner at CSC. Our chairs will be more knowledgeable about the Higher Learning Commission, State Authorization, and other issues.

Q: What have been the results of the recent accreditation of CSC by the Higher Learning Commission?

The faculty, staff, and administration worked very deliberately for years in order to achieve a highly successful result from the 2017 reaffirmation process. That process, though long and challenging, was highly rewarding. One of the results of that effort is to continue to move the institution from an oral culture to a written culture; that is, we are working to ensure that processes and procedures are written down and implemented in a predictable and fair manner. Chadron State College is an amazing institution. I was thrilled that we could showcase that through the reaffirmation process with the Higher Learning Commission.

Q: What issues do the departments in the School of Business, Math and Science have in common, and how do you deal with those issues?

Math, Business, and Geoscience have some online programs, so issues related to the online world, i.e. state authorization, are paramount. Regarding the pre-professional programs, it is our relationship with UNMC. One thing I learned quite profoundly when I became a dean over seven years ago is that each department has their own culture. Each department and program are unique. That is part of the reason why I enjoy working with each program within the School of Business, Mathematics, and Science.

Q: Are there some issues unique to the individual departments within the School of Business Math and Science? If so, what are they and how do you deal with them?

The most pressing issue, in my view, involves the Math and Science Building. It is long overdue for an upgrade. That does affect the programs in that building. As I mentioned earlier, the Business programs are offered online; thus, there are some unique challenges with that, particularly involving external entitles, including specialized accreditation.  

Q: How do you, as Dean, keep in touch with the instructors and professors in the departments you head? How do you keep informed of the experiences of students in those departments?

One of my most favorite aspects of my position is what has been called the “Walking Deanship.” When I have a moment, I stop by faculty offices to listen. I also strive to interact with students in the halls. I have to admit that it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my position.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being a Dean at CSC?

Navigating the ever-changing external higher education landscape. This includes state authorization, specialized accreditation, and our relationship with the Higher Learning Commission. These environments are constantly in flux. In an interesting twist, that also makes it quite exciting.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Dean at CSC?

The people here are phenomenal. The faculty are passionate about what they do, and honestly, I just try to stay out of the way. It is an honor to serve as a dean at CSC.

—George Ledbetter