New Liberal Arts Dean to start Fall semester

Posted on Jul 7 2015 - 1:57pm by Logan Kirkland & Clara Turnage




After about a year of searching for a new dean for the college of liberal arts, Dr. Lee Cohen, will serve as the new dean this fall semester.

Cohen said he first learned about the position opening from an email sent by Dr. Michael Allen, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, to the members of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology .

“Within a couple of days of seeing Dr. Allen’s email, a good friend and colleague of mine forwarded the job ad to me and encouraged me to apply – and I did,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he had recently begun considering applying for dean positions at a very select group of schools.

“The more I learned about the University of Mississippi and the city of Oxford, the more excited I became about the possibility of coming here,” Cohen said.

After an initial Skype interview, Cohen was pleased to learn that he was invited to campus for an on-site interview. Cohen said the overwhelming amount of support has really solidified the decision that the university is where he and his family need to be.

“I recall that when I got home, I told my wife that this was a place I really wanted to be and when I got the offer I was thrilled,” Cohen said.  “Since then, my wife and kids have been so incredibly supportive of the decision, and numerous people affiliated with the university and the City of Oxford have reached out to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

Cohen said during his professional training and career he met individuals who were, or are, affiliated with the University of Mississippi.  Two of these individuals in particular, a current faculty member and an alumnus from one of the doctoral programs on campus, have had positive things to say about the university and the city of Oxford.

“I could not help but think that this could be a really nice fit for me and my family,” Cohen said.

Cohen said, because he has not been able to begin working on campus, it is difficult to assess what needs to be done to improve the overall status of the college of Liberal Arts, but is looking to keep the school highly competitive.

“The college appears to be in really good shape and has many strengths,” Cohen said.  “This said, I believe we need to keep striving to be the very best we can be.  To do this, I plan to work with many individuals across campus to develop a strategic plan for the college that is consistent with the university’s plan.”

Cohen said he is excited to get settled in and begin his work and is appreciative, grateful and humbled to have this opportunity.

“I am not an impulsive person, so the decision to relocate my family and begin a new position did not happen over night,” Cohen said.”  “A great deal of thought and preparation went into the decision that ultimately led to me accepting this position.”

Cohen said, although he is excited about the new position, it will be challenging to obtain a thorough understanding of the many disciplines that make up the College of Liberal Arts.

“As chair, I learned a great deal about the many disciplines that make up colleges like ours, but my concerns were solely focused on one department and one discipline,” Cohen said.  “Now I will need to shift my thinking to a more broad and general approach where I will listen to, learn from, and consult with colleagues from multiple disciplines with different markers of success.”

Cohen said he effectively served in various administrative roles and believes he has made an impact.  Cohen has an established record as a leader, serving as the director of a nationally accredited doctoral program and as the chair of a large, complex department.  During his tenure in these roles, he has established partnerships, which has led to training opportunities for students.  Cohen said he also has professional experience managing budgets and in addressing pressing financial and resource needs.

As a clinical psychologist, Cohen has experience with listening skills and has helped individuals find solutions to problems that can be complex and difficult, both attributes which he believes will help him with this new role.

Although very happy in his previous position at Texas Tech University and being a part of the community of Lubbock, Texas,  he felt that it was time to pursue his interests in becoming a dean, and to further help a major university enhance its excellence.

“During my tenure as chair, our department achieved so many great things and I began to think that I would like to try and do the same at the college level, where the impact can be even greater,” Cohen said.  “Given my career goals and family considerations, this opening came during a window of opportunity I could not pass on. I really went into this process with a ‘nothing to lose attitude’ and the more I learned about the university, and the more people I had the opportunity to interact with, it became clear that I wanted to be part of the University of Mississippi family.”