By Dorothy Bowerfind
Nathan Dugan joined the faculty at St. John’s College in 1999, the same year he earned his PhD from the University of California San Diego in political science. He pursued his bachelor’s in political science from the College of William and Mary, graduating in 1992. Mr. Dugan is just beginning his three year term as Assistant Dean at St. John’s College, Annapolis. He will be co-leading a preceptorial this fall with newly inaugurated President Kanelos on Borges’ Ficciones.
Students look to the Assistant Dean’s Office for countless kinds of assistance, whether it be in the classroom or the dorm room, even off campus. It seems vital that the position is filled by a person with moral integrity, a vision for the future, and a friendly disposition; Mr. Dugan not only exhibits these traits, he personifies them. When he was first approached about assuming the position, he said, “I would be willing to do that. But what would make me want to do it?” And the reason was Ms. Heines. Part of the Assistant Dean’s training is spending the year before, and the final six months particularly, working with the current Assistant Dean. In that time he was struck by how well-functioning the office had become under her guidance.
Over the next three years there are a couple of things that Mr. Dugan would like to work on; the first of which is already underway and flourishing. The Fine Arts Program at St. John’s as we knew it died last year. Before the Annapolis Center for the Arts, St. John’s used to be the primary place for community members and students to gather together for more technical art classes. Studio space and classrooms were reserved for these classes on campus and, in turn, the instructors would reserve slots in each class for St. John’s students. Things have changed over the years, and the town art scene has bloomed with small studios and different art opportunities. The only thing that seemed to be lacking was a Johnnie approach to art. The Program inspires questions about perception and images, Mr. Dugan relates, questions that we don’t always get to talk about directly in our tutorials and seminars. With the arts scene in town blooming, the only thing lacking seems to be this Johnnie approach to art. With input from current students, faculty, and staff, Mr. Dugan constructed a New (Fine Arts) Program that would allow for these questions to be handle in different ways. Technical courses are still available to students with the additions of art conversations, field trips, and open studio hours with materials and art assistants. From a student’s perspective, this initiative has been a huge success. Art classes filled up quickly, and the knowledge that Mr. Dugan is looking for student input and opinions while we move forward has garnered plenty of goodwill.
The second project on Mr. Dugan’s mind is a little further off in terms of implementation. He would be interested in starting a series of Substance-Free events, “parties of a different sort.” These could include everything from restaurant visits to movie viewings, and almost anything in between. The goal would not be to eradicate drinking on campus entirely; rather, to provide an alternative. It seems to Mr. Dugan that young college students often don’t have the opportunity to experience all that adult life has to offer– it’s so much more than drinking! His only reservation seemed to be that he wants this to come from the students, like the σωφροσύνη* floor in Spector Hall. Mr. Dugan is more interested in managing and supporting student initiatives than pushing his own. The last thing he wants is to be the face of a “top-down” system, a reputation that could only be harmful to his purpose: supporting us.
The end of our conversation was perhaps the most charming part, with Mr. Dugan exhorting the polity to come talk to him. He wants to help, but can only do so if he is aware of the problem.