BY SEBASTIAN DUNCAN – STAFF WRITER
Dr. Brian Cusato’s promotion to Associate Dean marks a new page in his professional career here at Centre College. Cusato, who is also associate professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, was named associate dean at Centre College in July of 2016. Since then, he has had the opportunity to reflect on his new position and what he hopes to achieve as associate dean.
Associate Dean Brian Cusato has a passionate yet humble attitude towards his job. Cusato hopes to personally help Centre’s faculty maintain excellence in teaching, but he also considers himself to be “one member of a team.”
Cusato, who has experienced a gradual increase in his administrative role since joining Centre’s faculty in 2006, now collaborates with administrative staff to help Centre College faculty maintain a high standard of teaching.
Becoming associate dean will add to Cusato’s administrative responsibility on campus, but he will maintain a connection to the classroom by teaching two classes a year.
The associate dean’s main responsibility is to provide feedback to faculty members based off of their student evaluations. Cusato also handles academic dishonesty cases, and he assists Centre’s senior staff with long-term planning for the college.
As associate dean, Cusato has two main objectives for his term.
“My primary goal is to maintain the stellar reputation that [Centre College has] as an institution of excellent teachers,” Cusato said, “[That’s] the calling card of Centre College- we have fantastic individuals who really know how to teach.”
Cusato will maintain high teaching standards by using student evaluations to give professors feedback on their teaching. Since he reads all student evaluations on all faculty members, Cusato believes that an outside opinion can be very helpful to new professors.
“I get an institutional perspective that an individual faculty member might not have,” Cusato said.
A combination of resources, talented individuals, and a thorough process of reviewing and interpreting student evaluations allows Centre College to recruit and assist first-rate professors. When Centre College tells prospective students that it has excellent teachers, Cusato and his fellow administrators want to ensure that excellence is maintained.
Cusato’s second objective is to keep the classroom an innovative and effective place for learning. When commenting on teaching methods at Centre, Cusato said, “I want to make sure that our techniques are 21st century techniques.”
In addition to ensuring that professors are using the most effective teaching methods, Cusato wants to use student evaluations to communicate effective teaching techniques between faculty members. Since he reads all evaluations, he can share successful teaching methods with faculty without relinquishing confidentiality.
“I can say ‘this has helped someone else’ or ‘I know someone else in a different program that is struggling with the same issue’,” Cusato said.
Cusato believes that Centre College is an ideal place to introduce new teaching methods because of talented faculty and small class sizes.
“Our faculty are really committed to trying new things,” Cusato said, “From my perspective, I need to be committed to recognizing how important that is.”
Through his gradual increase in administrative responsibilities, Cusato’s perspective of his role at Centre College has changed. He is excited to assist faculty by reviewing their evaluations, and he enjoys helping new professors get the feedback they need to grow as teachers.
“We’ve got really good teachers [at Centre]. These are individuals who are truly passionate about what they do,” Cusato said.
Cusato also appreciates how students are impacted by their teachers and the study abroad opportunities that their teachers offer them.
“When you see comments by the students who have been transformed by their courses,” Cusato shared, “by the study abroad experiences that they have…when you read that day after day… you realize that we have excellent teachers here”.
“It’s humbling but also very inspiring to be a part of that”, Cusato concluded.
As he takes on a new role in Centre’s administration, Cusato is committed to the college’s reputation for innovative and exceptional teaching. The Cento looks forward to seeing Cusato’s ongoing progress towards achieving his vision for the college.