College Welcomes Jaime Lester, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives

by Anne Reynolds

College Welcomes Jaime Lester, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives

On Friday, October 25, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences welcomed its new Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Jaime Lester.

Lester began her career at Mason in 2008, as the first external tenure track hire in the Higher Education Program. While a faculty member in the program, where she has most recently served as its interim director, she has been engaged in supporting the work and work life experience of her fellow faculty members throughout the university.

“I have been working in different capacities, sometimes formally, and sometimes informally, in very different kind of faculty groups and initiatives,” she said. “Part of my commitment comes from both my experience as a faculty member – I’m an academic parent – and also just my research.”

In support of Mason’s faculty, she has been a part of Mason’s Center for Teaching Excellence, and later with Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning, to teach PROV 701: Preparing for Careers in the Academy. She served as a Presidential Fellow, working with former Mason President Ángel Cabrera on initiatives relating to faculty engagement, including the institution of the website that helps faculty members identify offices and services on campus that support their work lives. She took part in the update of Mason’s Strategic Plan, advocating for faculty concerns, and has been a co-leader of the team that has implemented the Harvard COACHE (Collaboration on Academic Careers in Higher Education) program for measuring and optimizing faculty job satisfaction.

“Faculty are people who have decided on this vocation,” Lester said. It’s a “value-based decision to be in a role where they’re able to work with students, do their research, and find meaning and purpose in their work.”

The associate dean position for faculty affairs and strategic initiatives is new to the college. Lester will work with Mason’s Office of Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics to ensure that the recruitment of new faculty members will foster a diverse and inclusive faculty. She will work with the dean on periodic review for current faculty, including contract renewal, promotion, and tenure review; lead the college’s efforts in providing career development for faculty members; and work to recognize faculty for their awards and achievements both inside and outside of the university.

Lester holds a dual B.A. from the University of Michigan in English and women’s studies, and earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in higher education from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

She has authored, edited, or contributed to seven books, and has over fifty peer-reviewed journal articles and other academic publications. Her research considers organizational change and leadership in higher education with a focus on faculty development. More recently, she has looked into the impact of data-driven evidence on making changes to the science of teaching, research that has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

She looks forward to working with the college’s faculty through her new role. “What’s really important is to be clear with chairs and directors and faculty that my job is to really be in support of you … in all the ways that are going to help you find meaning and purpose in your career.”