Gregory named ASMSA Dean of Academic Affairs

4 years ago

Bob Gregory has been named the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts.

Director Corey Alderdice recently announced Gregory’s permanent appointment after a national search was conducted to fill the position. Gregory had been serving as interim dean since the spring 2013 semester.

Gregory joined ASMSA’s math faculty in 2011. He previously taught at Webb School of Knoxville, a private school in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches, La. LSMSA is a residential public high school that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the arts, similar to ASMSA. Gregory served as chairman of the Math Department and was one of four people responsible for LSMSA’s academic program.

Gregory, 53, said his time as ASMSA interim dean allowed him the opportunity to see if his approach to serving as a dean would fit the school’s needs.

“I needed to figure out if being a dean was what I did or what I am,” he said. “It’s not what I do. I am what I am, and at the same time, I am able to accomplish the needs of that position. Once I figured out that I was able to do the job, and just be myself in doing it, I decided to apply for the job.”

Gregory said his approach to serving as dean includes being involved in many aspects of the students’ lives. While serving as interim dean, he made it a point to attend student activities outside of the classroom. Attending activities allowed him to interact with students in a different atmosphere than his office.

“I’m interested in what the kids are doing other than what they are doing in their classes,” he said.

He plans to stay active in the classroom by teaching at least one class. Gregory said the benefits are twofold — the class will allow him to interact on the classroom level with students as well as stay in touch with what his faculty colleagues are experiencing. The Dean of Academic Affairs serves as the faculty’s supervisor.

Another area of focus will be improving ASMSA’s ability to reach out to teachers and students across the state, Gregory said. Providing opportunities for students who aren’t enrolled at ASMSA as well as creating additional resources for the state’s teachers are important parts of the school’s mission, he said.

ASMSA holds Science and Engineering Institutes that explore math and science topics for students in the sixth through 10th grades both on campus and around the state. That is a good start, Gregory said, but the school needs to grow its offerings to provide more opportunities for both teachers and students.

Alderdice said it’s the combination of Gregory’s actions and perspective that made Gregory a good fit for the dean position.

“At the core of ASMSA's living/learning environment is the need to understand that learning takes place in all moments of the day,” Alderdice said. “Bob has a tremendous amount of instructional and administrative experience in schools like ours that seek to inspire students in variety of spaces and contexts.

“During his time as interim dean, Bob demonstrated his commitment to student success, exploring innovations in our curriculum and developing outreach programs that increase ASMSA's influence across Arkansas.  I look forward to what his leadership will bring to our academic experience and all other parts of our community of learning.”

Gregory said his previous work and teaching positions provided him important experiences that will help him serve as ASMSA’s Dean of Academic Affairs.

He was an engineer for Texas Instruments for several years before taking a teaching position at the Louisiana school. LSMSA faces many of the same challenges as ASMSA — recruiting students from an entire state; providing social and academic programs that offer support for the students; and interacting with talented high school students who are living away from home among others.

The Webb School had students with many different backgrounds from a nine-county region. Finding ways to support the fifth- through 12th-grade students to help them succeed in the program was an important challenge.

He said he believes starting out in the business world before teaching made him more flexible. When something doesn’t work, it can be changed quickly,  he said. That experience combined with his mathematical mind allowed him to learn that there isn’t just one right answer, he said.

“Let’s find one right answer,” he said. “I don’t necessarily need to be the one to present the answer or for it to be my answer. … As long as I had a part in the conversation that led to the decision, I’m satisfied.”

Gregory’s approach to education, his experience at other institutions similar to ASMSA and his experience at the school impressed the Dean of Academic Affairs Search Committee.

“The committee was particularly impressed by Mr. Gregory’s experience with gifted and talented high school students in a residential environment, his commitment to improving student learning, his ideas for innovative instructional approaches and his direct experience at ASMSA, including his existing relationships with administrators, faculty and staff,” said Chris Robbins, ASMSA Dean of Distance Education and Information Technology, in a letter to Adlderice recommending Gregory for the position.

Gregory said his experiences have also taught him another important lesson that he wants to share with ASMSA students — that growth is important in academics and life in general.

“I am not the very best at anything, but I can do my best at everything I try to do. Am I learning and growing and am I doing my best? If my best is a C, I can learn and grow from that,” he said.

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