Dr. Martin Camacho, Dr.Kathaleen Amende continue COLFA dean candidate forums

Xavier Richardson, Assistant Opinion Editor

The open forums for the College of Liberal and Fine Arts dean finalist candidates continued with Dr. Martin Camacho on Feb. 3 and Dr. Kathaleen Amende on Feb. 5.

Camacho, dean of the College of Fine Arts at Midwestern State University, opened the forum by acknowledging his limited experience with UTSA and how he will learn more about the university if selected dean.

“I’ve been on the campus for the last hour and a half, and it’d probably be presumptuous of me to try to tell you what you guys should be doing and what are we going to do,” Camacho said. “It’s very difficult for anyone that would come here, and I would probably warn you against hiring somebody that would come and tell you what you’re going to do. I come with a certain degree of knowing that I don’t know many things about you and that my first job — my first task of the job — would be to learn about you and to learn what is it that were trying to do.”

In reference to how he would approach President Taylor Eighmy’s goal of achieving Carnegie R1 status, Camacho spoke about the importance of the quality of student research.

“In my resume you would probably think — and somebody will say — well this guy doesn’t have experience teaching at an R1 university, and we want to be an R1 university, so what does he have to offer?” Camacho said. “What does he know about what an R1 is? The fact of the matter is quality is quality and … I want to believe that the foundation for the college of liberal arts is going to be based on quality, not necessarily our metrics, and our metrics should be founded on our quality and the quality of what we do for our students.”

In the following forum, Amende addressed the importance properly equipped faculty has on the function of the university.

“The number one thing that is important to me as a dean is to make sure that anybody who works in COLFA or attends COLFA is going to have the resources that they need to do their jobs,” Amende said. “The students are here to get an education; it is the faculty that gives that education. And so, if the faculty cannot do their jobs, everybody suffers. From the president on down, everyone will suffer if faculty is not allowed to do their work.”

Amende also stressed the role of experiential learning and community engagement in terms of demonstrating the relevance of a liberal arts degree.

“Getting out, getting your hands on something, making sure that you see the relevance of your education to the real world out there, is super important to our students,” Amende said. “It makes our students feel like they are involved in something. Having them do experiential work allows them reflection, which then increases their abilities, their analytical skills, their self reflection and community building. All of these things come about when our students are out there doing things as opposed to sitting behind a desk.”

The final two forums will take place on Feb. 24 and 26 from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., featuring Dr. Rhonda Gonazales, current interim COLFA dean at UTSA, and Dr. Stuart Benkert, head of the department of performing arts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, respectively. For a complete schedule of the forums, visit https://www.utsa.edu/today/2020/01/story/colfa-forums.html.