by Sheryl Marlar
Dr. N. Jane McCandless has stepped down from the position of dean of the College of Social Sciences at the University of West Georgia. She will return to the faculty, having been the dean since COSS was founded in 2011.
McCandless, known for her walks on and off campus, leaves an impressive list of accomplishments during her tenure as dean. COSS has experienced record growth in enrollment, faculty, majors, programs and community service activities under her leadership.
“When all of her many achievements and accolades are tallied, we are left with an idealized portrait of academic leadership,” said Dr. Micheal Crafton, UWG’s interim president. “I say academic leadership because I believe that for Dr. McCandless, the academy is at the core of her being – of her identity.”
In reflection, McCandless’ aspirational career has been filled with so many memorable moments.
“The most memorable moment I have was being chosen as founding dean for the College of Social Sciences,” McCandless said. “Indeed, that was the highlight of my career.”
Others include submitting the proposal for a women’s studies minor program of study, as well as being chosen as chair of her home department, sociology.
“And standing with other strong women and bringing about changes that were good then and will be good for many generations of women to follow,” she added.
McCandless was recognized as a leader shortly after she came to UWG in 1990.
Becoming the director of graduate studies in 1999, she kept that role until 2004, while also serving as acting chair of the philosophy department from 2001-04 – and the acting chair of mass communications and theatre arts from 2003-04.
In 2004, McCandless became the permanent chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology, remaining in that role until 2010. Within that same year, she was named the transitional dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In January 2011, McCandless became dean of the newly created College of Social Sciences, a role she maintained until the end of the 2018-19 academic year.
Crafton said McCandless has brought about “so much good” to COSS.
“She has ushered in a new era of departmental accountability, moved faculty from advisers to mentors, developed an advisory council, and promoted diversity and inclusion throughout her tenure as dean,” Crafton continued.
Off campus, McCandless has led the charge and provided community outreach in the Community Advisory Council. In addition, her college hosts a State of Community event every year, in which community leaders and members are encouraged to discuss and address the needs and challenges that face the community and the surrounding area.
She was also instrumental in the development of the Carroll Rape Crisis Center, now known as the West Georgia Prevention and Advocacy Center.
“She is a values-driven person whose mission is based on social justice,” Crafton concluded. “And because of her intelligence, work ethic and fearless demeanor, she achieves that mission.”
As McCandless walks away as dean, she looks forward to returning to teaching full time.
“After all, teaching is where I began my career,” she concluded, “and that is where I want to end it.”