Restructuring Endicott

Photo by David Lee

As part of the restructuring process at Endicott College, a new School has formed this year which merges three previously separate divisions and numerous majors to create the School of Social Sciences, Communication, and Humanities. This new school is led by Dean Mark Herlihy and a team of other administrators and Faculty Leads including Associate Dean Dr. Maria Wong, Chair of Criminal Justice Dr. William Pruitt, Faculty Lead for the Humanities Division Dr. Sam Alexander and Faculty Lead for the Communication Division Dr. Amy Damico. With Endicott College constantly evolving to facilitate the ever-changing academic environment, both Dr Herlihy and Dr Wong have spoken enthusiastically about this new and exciting change.


So, what exactly is the new School of Social Sciences, Communication, and Humanities? As Dr Herlihy explains, originally the department of Social Sciences (Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Political Science) was combined with the Humanities (English, History, and Liberal Studies) in the former School of Arts & Sciences, which also included STEM programs. The STEM programs grew so big that they became a separate School of Science and Technology.”  With the new structure, added Herlihy, “Humanities and Social Sciences were grouped with programs that had been part of the former School of Communication to become the new School of Social Sciences, Communication, & Humanities. Grouping those divisions and their majors within a School is common in higher education.” 


Dr. Herlihy discusses the importance of defining the school’s identity through the mission statement. With help from faculty, the school now has a strong idea of its mission statement, ‘as a multidisciplinary community, we seek to understand complex human interaction through narrative, empirical inquiry, and creative expression. We prepare our students to pursue diverse career opportunities in such areas as criminal justice, law, politics, psychology, communication, digital media, the humanities, publishing, and education. Our students develop the curiosity, cultural awareness, professional competencies, and critical thinking skills necessary to become lifelong learners and global citizens.’ Dr Herlihy expresses the importance of making connections across the different majors. He says that even before the creation of the new school, faculty members have worked together to share ideas and teaching strategies, and so it seems the merging of these departments is a natural progression from this already well-established relationship. He mentions the team-taught course piloted in Spring 2021 with Sociology Professor Adilia James and Communication Professor Melissa Yang called ‘Race, Ethnicity and the Media.’ They hope to make the class a General Education course which will also be a Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Designated course.


Dr. Wong discusses in detail the roles and responsibilities of her position in the school. As she oversees the Psychology Faculty she discusses how she is in discussion with faculty members reviewing the curriculum. She describes her involvement in facilitating the creation of the mission statement. She also has a key role in organizing DEI initiatives. For example, in February, she and History Professor Dr. Elizabeth Matelski facilitated a discussion on social identities, specifically in regard to race, class, and gender. In March, Dr. Wong and Communication Professor Sara Allen co-facilitated a discussion on microaggressions: what they are and what to do about them. The next discussion in April will be on power and privilege. In addition, Philosophy Professor Dr Willie Young is leading a discussion series on the book ‘The Kaepernick Effect’ in March and April. Dr Wong also enthusiastically mentions the process of forming their School’s very own DEI Task force and that they have scheduled their first meeting in April. These are only a few of the many responsibilities that Dr Wong has within school, alongside being a Psychology Professor. She also looks forward to continuing to create a truly inclusive and equitable environment for students. 


Dr. Wong is new to Endicott and alongside all these responsibilities, she is also adjusting to being in a new environment and new job which she admits comes with a few challenges. Yet she stresses her gratitude for the opportunity and the team she works alongside as well as working with the students. She says, ‘Endicott College is an amazing place, and I am so proud to be part of this community.’


What is the future of the school? Both Dr. Herlihy and Dr. Wong continue to stress the importance of having dynamic conversations to continue to develop the identity of the school and facilitate initiatives to encourage diversity. Dr. Wong points out how the school is making significant contributions to DEI General Education course offerings: more than 70% of the courses which have DEI designation are from the School of Social Sciences, Communication and Humanities. To finish, Dr. Wong says, ‘We also hope to increase our impact on our community outside of Endicott and are open to new partnerships and opportunities.’


As Endicott continues to change and adapt to suit the ever-changing environment of education, the School of Social Sciences, Communication and Humanities will continue to evolve.