In the last month, we've named three new interim deans, and over the next few weeks we will give you a chance to get to know more about them through brief interviews. Frances Homans, PhD, started in her role as interim associate dean of academic programs and faculty affairs on July 1, 2022. She most recently served as head of the Department of Applied Economics and the Department of Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing. We asked her five questions about what she plans to focus on in this position and what she’s currently reading and listening to.
What do you hope to accomplish during your time in this role?
I’m proud to champion the initiatives that are already well underway and are focused on increasing access to our programs and courses. One is the CFANS Collegiate Hybrid Online Strategy, with the goal of offering CFANS minors online and delivering hybrid courses that leverage U of M Research and Outreach Centers (ROCs) and other outstate resources for experiential learning. Another ongoing initiative is increasing disability services on the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. Yet another is growing the existing CFANS Diversity Enriched Curriculum. I look forward to having conversations with faculty in the College about how we can better communicate about the innovative programs already in place and how to continue to deliver our quality programs with the resources we have. I’m personally invested in a coordinated approach to fostering creativity and entrepreneurial problem solving through a set of courses that will support learning in all of our majors in CFANS.
How will you be an advocate for students, faculty, and staff?
I plan to do a lot of listening so that I can understand where the opportunities are to make things better. Luckily, I still get the chance to get to know students through teaching and advising. I also know that supporting students means supporting those who support students, so paying attention to the needs of faculty and staff is a high priority for me in my new role.
How will you foster diversity and inclusion in CFANS?
I am delighted with the initiatives that we already have underway and look forward to partnering closely with the new assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion who we are in the process of hiring. I believe that we are all responsible for building a welcoming and inclusive community where students can thrive.
What are three words that best describe you?
Optimistic, approachable, and constructive.
What books and/or podcasts are on your reading and listening lists right now?
I just finished “The Thursday Murder Club,” in which a group of senior citizens discuss unsolved crimes as a hobby and then put their skills to use solving a murder that happens in their midst. My new favorite podcast is called “Maintenance Phase,” about the junk science behind health fads, wellness scams, and nonsensical nutrition advice. It’s both funny and eye-opening.