Jason Wilder, interim dean of CEFNS, competes to become official

Jason Wilder, a candidate for dean of the College of the Environment, Forestry and Natural Sciences, invites audience members to ask any questions they may have Feb 11.

Jason Wilder introduced himself to students and faculty Tuesday morning as the final competitor vying for dean of The College of the Environment, Forestry and Natural Sciences (CEFNS). Wilder has worked at NAU for the last 12 years and has held numerous positions, including the director of the Biomedical Science Program and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. Currently, Wilder serves as the interim dean of the CEFNS at NAU, as of 2019.

As a candidate for CEFNS, Wilder noted the importance of having a deep commitment to advanced student achievement and success, along with having a proven record of leadership.

"My career as a faculty member is distinguished by a deep commitment to teaching and mentoring students, coupled with a strong record of scholarly publications and extramural funding," Wilder said. "My combination of visionary academic leadership, well-honed administrative skills and success as a teacher-scholar will help me deliver innovative experiences for our students while also growing CEFNS' already renowned research profile."

Wilder also discussed the importance of being strategic when it comes to financial planning to strengthen faculty and staff professional development and IT support programs. Wilder said this planning relies on the One NAU Strategic Plan, as CEFNS currently has none.

Similarly, Wilder explained the importance of structuring all work within CEFNS with a focus on initiating a strategic plan for the college.

"At present, CEFNS has no college strategic plan, and many academic units within also lack strategic plans," Wilder said. "My role as interim dean has been to initiate these efforts at the academic unit and college level."

Wilder also discussed his vision in academic programming when it comes to student success and student access to higher education.

Additionally, Wilder promoted his past accomplishments while discussing his current achievements as interim dean.

"I have worked to build new academic programs and to encourage thoughtful assessment and evaluation of existing programs in ways that ensure exceptional experiences and value for NAU students," Wilder said. "Already, this fall, the college submitted several exciting new academic program proposals that are being fast-tracked for deployment in Fall 2020."

Wilder also discussed the importance of supporting an environment of diversity and inclusion. He said that a successful academic unit thrives by building consensus around a shared vision, as academic leadership plays a critical role in guiding the process.

"My leadership style is one that is inclusive and recognizes that faculty and staff have a wide range of talents and priorities within the campus community," Wilder said. "Finding ways to incorporate diverse voices into a shared vision for the future is one of the greatest challenges and pleasures of an academic leadership position."

Wilder was the final candidate for dean of CEFNS, wrapping up the series of four candidates who have visited since the beginning of February. While there is no set date to announce the next dean, feedback from students and faculty is expected by Feb. 14.