Thomas H. DeLuca, candidate for dean of the College of Forestry & Conservation at the University of Montana, speaks to a full house on Tuesday, Arpil 12, 2016. Photo by Courtney Gerard.

Thomas H. DeLuca

Q&A: A Passion for Soil, People and Place

Thomas H. DeLuca, the final candidate for the position of dean of the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation, outlined his background in education, research and administrative roles at an open house on April 12, 2016. DeLuca’s underscored his belief that it is a dean’s job to cultivate an atmosphere of trust between faculty, students and administration. The room on Don Anderson Hall was filled to capacity for the event, with some attendees sitting on the floor or leaning against the wall.

DeLuca’s said he felt the University of Montana has abundant resources, both in its natural setting and in its students and faculty and these advantages inform his vision for the department. He said that budget cuts may spark competition among faculty and within academic programs, just when collaboration and support — both in the College of Forestry and Conservation and across disciplines — is more important than ever.

Montana Story Lab, a graduate course in the University of Montana’s School of Journalism, has covered the open house sessions with each of three candidates for dean in the College of Forestry and Conservation with an eye toward understanding how candidates plan to communicate their work to the public through the media.

DeLuca spoke about the importance of communication and acknowledged the necessity of sharing information both within the university and with the greater Missoula community.

Prospective dean Thomas H. DeLuca speaks to students and faculty about the importance of cooperation and communication. Photo by Courtney Gerard.

Q: Here at the University of Montana, the schools of forestry and journalism have traditionally had an open, collaborative relationship. How can you, as the dean, continue this collaborative relationship between the students and faculty of forestry and conservation and the press?

A: It’s my understanding from talking with some faculty that they are doing some really neat things with journalism students joining their research programs and coming and working in their labs and even going overseas with them, and it’s amazing. I think there is a whole lot the two can learn from one another. The journalist learns more about the science and the scientist learns how to do outreach and how to communicate. Just like I was saying at the beginning, communication is so key. As a dean, what would I do to enhance that or build that? I think just maintaining a strong link with the journalism program and finding ways to facilitate a connection between the two whether it is a shared workshop or a shared seminar series, that would be a logical or easy type of thing to pull off.

Finalists for the position of Dean of the School of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana include:

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