Provost candidate José Bermúdez delivers presentation to Mason community

Bermúdez has served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University since 2010 (photo courtesy of Texas A&M).
Bermúdez has served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University since 2010 (photo courtesy of Texas A&M).

The provost committee presented their final candidate, José Bermúdez, at an intimate lunch at the Mason Inn’s Boxwoods restaurant on Feb. 14 after the university’s closure.

Bermúdez has served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University since 2010. He has holds a doctorate in philosophy from Kings College at Cambridge University and was previously a professor of philosophy, director of the Center for Programs in Arts and Sciences and director of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Bermúdez began his informal presentation by speaking directly about Mason’s strategic plan. He spoke highly of the initiative and outlined his ideas for expanding the four pillars of innovation, diversity, entrepreneurship, and accessibility.   

“I think it is really smart to create a set of values and what you want your students to be like and work backwards from there,” Bermúdez said.

One of the bigger components of Bermúdez’s presentation was his desire to grow student involvement in Mason’s study abroad programs, while also examining the possibility of making study abroad a requirement for certain majors. If chosen as provost, he would encourage at least 25 percent of students to study abroad.

After speaking briefly on his visions and goals for Mason, the candidate took questions from various committee members and discussed his ideas for issues that are specific to the position.

Bermúdez spoke about his goals for research and stated that Mason’s 908 tenure and tenure-track professors were not enough to build a massive research presence. In order to create a larger research initiative, Bermúdez stressed that he would push to allocate increased funding for these professors to do more research.

“As a humanist, I do think the end all be all of research is research funding,” Bermúdez said.

In tandem with building Mason’s research capacity, Bermúdez also hopes to expand the library’s accessibility. He felt that Mason needed to increase the amount of materials and resources available to students both inside the library and electronically to keep up with an evolving classroom.

“The library is a contributor to the full academic enterprise…[it is] actively involved in the changing environment of the classroom,” Bermúdez said.

In terms of student services, Bermúdez would want to work with the student government to stay in touch with the issues that are most prevalent to students. He also stressed that he wanted to look into expanding intramural sport activities to keep students active outside of the classroom.

“[I’m] looking at the infrastructure between inside and outside the classroom,” Bermúdez said. 

In closing, Bermúdez described his leadership style to committee members with hopes that he could get the faculty working together cohesively toward a common goal.

“[The biggest challenge] will be trying to get people to think as a college or university,” Bermúdez said.

The search committee will meet on Feb. 19 to discuss the candidates’ presentations and make their recommendations to President Cabrera, who will ultimately make the decision. 

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