Dr. Strom Thacker will become Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, effective July 1, 2016. An author, award-winner and experienced educator, Thacker will be leaving his current position as professor of international relations and global studies at Boston University, where he also previously occupied the position of Associate Dean of Faculty.
Subsequent to President Ainlay’s press release on March 18, announcing Thacker’s future employment, I had the opportunity to talk one on one with Thacker via email in order to obtain an even deeper insight on the new addition to Union’s faculty.
Thacker was drawn to Union majorly due to its long, celebrated history as an academic institution. However, Thacker included that as longstanding an institution as Union is, it continues to thrive and advance as time proceeds.
When asked about his key ambitions for his new position, Thacker said: “I look forward to helping build and develop the next generation of world-class teacher-scholars and global citizens at Union.”
Thacker will be bringing time-efficient and effective leadership skills to the college, most prominently his ability to “prioritize and sequence tasks (both large and small), to delegate and to work and consult with others to get things done efficiently and effectively.” These leadership skills, Thacker addresses, have been acquired through both observation of other teachers and mentors as well as self trial and error.
Belonging to a noteworthy and successful academic past, Thacker delved into great detail about how his career history influences his next step as Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs. His vocational direction, Thacker explains, began as early as his undergraduate years, and ultimately combines into a broad and zealous appreciation for liberal arts education. “My path to this position has been a somewhat indirect one that began during my years as an undergraduate at a liberal arts college, where I learned to appreciate and love that wonderful blend of the different academic elements of the liberal arts and sciences, which were themselves deepened by their connections to the residential, co-curricular, athletic, artistic and social elements of college life. It was really all a seamless web of experience for me, one in which each strand was supported by and provided support for all the others,” says Thacker. Thacker’s recent work at the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University has further deepened his enthusiasm for liberal arts education.
When asked what his biggest motivation for accepting this position at Union, Thacker accentuated his eagerness to help Union develop into an even more progressive educational institution. Thacker stresses a liberal art’s education’s contribution to the STEM fields, which he believes to be dominated by “Those who have exactly the kinds of skills that liberal arts colleges provide best.” These skills, Thacker describes, are outlined by the ability to “Think creatively and analytically and to work effectively with others and communicate well, both in writing and orally.” Thacker concludes his response with: “Training in the STEM fields introduces new ways of thinking about the more traditional liberal arts and opens new doors, not just in terms of career development but conceptually and intellectually as well. Union is especially well placed to take advantage of these kinds of connections, and I’m eager to help it do so.” Considering his greatest achievement to be contributing the growing success of his current institution, Thacker proves to strive for greatness with both faculty and students.
On a less professional basis, Thacker entertains many interesting hobbies- more than he has time for, as he describes. Thacker has a passion for activities such as scuba diving, snowboarding, and whitewater kayaking. He also enjoys biking, hiking, running, and home brewing. Thacker emphasizes his own as well as his family’s love for the outdoors.
Relocating for Thacker’s new position with him will be his wife, three children, dog, and cat, who he says are “Excited to move to the capital district region and to join the Union community.”