UI community celebrates retiring Dean Maxson


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Members of the University of Iowa and the Iowa City community crowded under a tent on the Pentacrest on Monday afternoon in respect of a longtime UI dean.

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek opened the ceremony paying tribute to Dean Linda Maxson of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"It's not often that the city is asked to comment on the university," Hayek said. "But we of the city felt it entirely fitting in this setting."

The day was also named "Dean Linda Maxson Day" to commemorate Maxson's 15 years of service to the UI. She announced her resignation in July 2011, which will take effect July 1.

Throughout her time on campus, Maxson was involved in various projects, including monitoring the establishment of temporary facilities following damage from the 2008 flood and the addition of the word "sciences" to the college's name.

Maxson said improving student education has always been at the forefront of her work.

"As dean, I do whatever needs to be done," she said. "Overall, I make sure we have good faculty to provide good education to the many students at the university."

Over the years, she said, she has overseen the hiring of more than half the College's current faculty and graduated thousands of students. She has also stayed determined to keep up with the latest educational technology.

"She's been very supportive," said Joseph Kearney, the liberal-arts associate dean for research and development. "I worked with her on technical support for the school, [and] with her help, we've built a very strong technological infrastructure for the College of Liberal Arts."

Helena Dettmer, the liberal-arts associate dean for academic programs and student development, said Maxson's work has helped bring importance to women faculty members.

"It's hard to pinpoint any one example of her leadership," Dettmer said. "She's been a fabulous mentor to women among the faculty because she's a very strong leader, very professional, and she has good ideas for her role as dean."

The search for Maxson's replacement ended last week and UI officials said the new dean will be announced in the next two weeks.

After her role as dean is complete, she said, she plans to return to teaching as a tenured professor in the Biology Department, where she will continue advocating for students.

"Dean Maxson has transformed the college with passion and innovation since she started," UI President Sally Mason said at the event Monday afternoon. "She has worked to ensure that the college meets the needs of students today and tomorrow."

Maxson said whoever takes her place will have a lot to get started on, including the improvement of general education and attending to the School of Art and Art History and the School of Music as their facilities recover from flood damage.

"There are a lot of unfinished projects," Maxson said. "The new dean will have to decide which direction to take them based on how they want to shape the university."

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