Name: Kent Roberts ’00.
Objective: To take control of the faculty.
Qualifications: Fifteen years in academia (as a student), and seven semesters at Brown (passing all but two courses).
While his peers send résumés for entry-level jobs, Kent Roberts is angling to be Brown’s next dean of the faculty. Never mind that candidates must be tenured professors with a “distinguished record of scholarship.” As dean, the first thing he would do is add the words “or not” to those qualifications. His leadership experience, he says, is indisputable he was president of his high-school class. Roberts is even willing to make the ultimate sacrifice: “I am aware,” he wrote in his application, “that as dean of the faculty, it is ethically mandatory that I discontinue sexual relations with my undergraduate girlfriend.”
Although he meets few of the formal requirements, Roberts thinks he would be “really great” as a dean. His only agenda would be “seeing that things are fair,” he says. By virtue of his age, not to mention his ponytail and T-shirt, he’d be a bridge between students and the administration, he adds. Still, Roberts knew from the outset that his chances are slim. The search-committee chair sent him a disqualification letter shortly after he filed his application.
Not everyone dismissed him so quickly, Roberts says brightly. Word of his application generated a flurry of encouraging e-mails from faculty. “The prospect of a Gen Y dean intrigues,” one professor wrote. Another added, “A sense of humor goes a long way in the deanship.” Another professor, after wishing Roberts the best of luck, wrote, “I think you will do about as good a job as any candidate.”