Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
by Miles Skorpen
Over the summer, Garikai Campbell ’90, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, became Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In his interview with the Daily Gazette, Dean Campbell discusses the ways in which he will draw on his experiences as a professor and apply them to being a dean.
Daily Gazette: Are you teaching this year?
Dean Campbell: I’m not teaching this year. I felt I needed to learn about this position for a while, but I think it will be critical for me to find a way to fold teaching back into my schedule.
DG: How do you plan to use your experience as a teacher in your new job as a dean?
GC: Every idea I have and way I see issues that come up are informed by my experience in classroom interactions with students as a professor.
DG: Was there something specific that attracted you to becoming a dean?
GC: Yes, this goes back to things being informed by my experience in the classroom. Every professor here is inspired by the idea of taking a student from one level to another through the process of investigation and discovery. I view my role as a dean as an extension of that.
DG: What brought you back to Swarthmore after going to grad school?
GC: The biggest thing that brought me back to Swarthmore was the community here. In grad school, I craved the sense of community and the environmentand opportunities that this kind of community can provide. I had a great experience here, so it was not a difficult decision to choose between staying put in grad school or finishing my work here at Swarthmore as a Pre-doctoral Consortium or a Stronger Minority Presence) Fellow.
DG: What kind of advice would you give to first year students?
GC: Much of what I would say, I said in the First Collection speech, so may sound redundant, but I would say: You may find yourself experiencing feelings you’ve never felt before because of the new challenges you will face here. This is normal and expected, so find creative ways to support but also push yourself. Think about problems in new ways and try not to be bound to thinking about things through one lens. Think about ideas and cross-fertilization of ideas-this is the essence of what you are learning here at Swat. It is a typical student (but also human) phenomenon that we often don’t take ideas from one space (or class) to the next. One of the important challenges is to look past boundaries and apply what you are learning across all those boundaries.