Dean Brown celebrates diversity of programs in PCAL
- Aurelia Spaulding
- Tuesday, September 14th, 2021
“I am PCAL.” This phrase seen on shirts and used by students, faculty, and staff came to life by one of WKU’s newest academic college deans, Dean Terrance Brown, who aims to, amongst other priorities, establish an identity, a new brand, for the college.
Those wondering why PCAL would need to establish an identity can find the answer by viewing the wide array of disciplines in the college. Potter College of Arts & Letters (PCAL) remains WKU’s most diverse academic college with 12 departments that offer more than 80 certificates, majors, and minors ranging from anthropology to broadcasting.
“With that, [I am PCAL campaign] we want to celebrate the diversity in the college, not only in terms of racial and cultural [diversity], but in terms of discipline and studies,” Brown said.
Joining WKU on July 1, 2021, Brown also added to the diversity in leadership at the university. His appointment this summer meant he became the first Black American to serve in a college dean position at WKU.
“I realized that I had been in several positions before where I was the first Black American, but this one was different,” Brown said. “I would hope that me operating in this role, allows me to not only represent the college for all people but that also people - young people who aspire and who may share my racial background - have hope that they can attain certain things as well. And that it shows that the university has a commitment to not only hiring people who can effectively do a job but realize the role of diversity in leadership.”
Brown learned of this historic first soon after being hired. He recalls reading a comment on social media that allowed him to see the significance of his role to some prospective students. The comment read, “I feel like I can get my degree now.” That made Brown question what barrier the person felt in getting their degree and why the person felt that way.
“If this appointment allows them to feel empowered to do so [get their degree], that makes me, as a person, feel complete and that I have a duty to something beyond just me. I recognize that, and I understand that. It is an opportunity to build a strong foundation that does celebrate diversity.”
The other aspect of PCAL’s strong foundation extends beyond the goal of creating a brand identity to stabilizing enrollment and reallocating and obtaining new funds for the college. “There are several factors that can play into that [stabilizing enrollment], such as evaluating our curriculum to ensure that we are meeting the students’ needs,” Brown explained. “[We are looking at] fiscal management in terms of budget items to find through philanthropy new funds that we can use, but at the same time, reallocating funds within the college to be sure that we are maximizing our dollar that best we can.”
Students remain at the center of Dean Brown’s plans for PCAL.
“First and foremost, I consider myself a student-centered leader. I am driven in every task or project that I endeavor to complete. The foundation [of my decisions] is what benefits the students and what’s better for them to reach their goals,” Brown explained.
In addition to keeping students at the center of decisions, Brown has planned a few opportunities to engage more with students.
“I am partnering with my Dean’s Council of Students to help them further initiatives,” he said. “They have to, sort of, be my eyes and ears and also a conduit for students who come through.”
During the year, Brown plans to host patio talks to speak with students on the “Juliette” balcony outside his office. These events plus other college events will be on a central calendar to ensure Dean Brown knows of opportunities to support and interact with students.
Already this year, PCAL has seen growth with the XR lab in partnership with Ogden College of Science and Engineering and the creation of the fresco mural at the Kentucky Museum. They also have multiple theatre, dance, music, and cultural enhancement events underway.
He went on to share that he and his wife Dr. Tiffany Brown, an artist-in-residence in the Music Department and Theatre and Dance Department, have a strong passion for first-generation college students.
“We hold that [creating opportunities for first-generation college students] very dear to us because those opportunities have afforded us a life that we probably could have never dreamed of otherwise.
Dean Brown expects the college to work on providing more scholarships and engaging more with the community.
“WKU afforded me and my family an opportunity to be able to step into a different direction in terms of professional and personal growth as well,” Brown shared. He considers himself a servant leader, and he can exercise that leadership in this position. He wants to strengthen the initiatives of those in the college so they can move forward.