New deans renew focus at Mesa

Carol Beilstein

Larry Weiss is the new Dean of the School of Humanities.

Candyce Fischer

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Mesa hired two new deans this past month to tackle the?Humanities Division that recently split into two different schools.

Former Speech and Debate Director Dr. Larry?Weiss became the Dean for the new School of Humanities. Jonathan Fohrman is now the?Dean for the new School of Arts and Languages.

Both schools were previously part of the School of Humanities and Languages. Before the division, former?Dean Kit Foster managed the school with as much faculty as that of Miramar?College. Now in the hands of Weiss and?Fohrman, it will receive renewed focus and attention.

“First we are trying to?find out what [the schools’] needs are right now,” said Weiss. ?”That’s a big time in these first few weeks. I think it’s exciting because you get to?figure out where we are, where can we go [and] how we can get there.”

Fohrman expressed?excitement about getting to explore new areas now that the staff isn’t “spread?so thin.”??

“Now that there are two of us looking after a?reduced area where we can have more focused attention, we will?be looking for alternate solutions, have a chance for creative thinking, and?hopefully collaborate with our faculty and colleagues across schools to [come?up with] creative solutions,” said Fohrman.

The last?decade has led the two men along very different paths, but now allows them to?come together as advocates for all aspects of humanities.

For the?last six years, Weiss taught speech classes at Mesa and served as the Chair of?the Speech Department. Before that,?he taught high school and university classes in Wisconsin, as well as filling?the position of Superintendent of Schools in the Johnson Creek, Wis.,?school district. From the University of?Wisconsin, Weiss holds a bachelor’s in Speech and English, a master’s in?Curriculum, Instruction and Communication Arts, and Ph.D. in Educational?Administration.

“Dr. Weiss?demonstrates a collegial approach to problem solving,” said Mesa President?Dr. Rita M. Cepeda in a press release. “He is an energetic individual?whose enthusiasm and experience add to his being the outstanding candidate for?the position of Dean, School of Humanities, at Mesa College.”

Fohrman returned to the United States in late 2006 after spending?five years in New Zealand as the Director of Performing Arts for Te Wananga o?Aotearoa (The University of New Zealand). ?He has a degree in ethnomusicology, which he defines as “the contextual?study of all the world’s music,” from the University of Washington.

“I support?strong community engagement and collaboration with community organizations,”?said Fohrman. “We are in a very?ethnically diverse area, so the school of Arts and Languages [should reflect]?and support that community. We are?offering things that are relevant to the community, and that are enriching the?wider environment of the college in terms of art and its cultural activities.”

Fohrman has a unique connection with?Mesa. In the 1970s, his wife’s?family immigrated to the United States from New Zealand. In order to earn his American certification?as an electrician, her dad took classes at Mesa.

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