[UTA Magazine]


Role reversal
Students, deans switch places for a morning


Junior Christy Barnes, left, and architecture Dean Martha LaGess stroll across campus. As part of the Big Switch, Barnes took over LaGess' administrative duties, and LaGess attended Barnes' classes for a day.

If you don't like the color of paint in the Social Work Building, you can't blame Dean Santos Hernández.

Portions of the building were being repainted during the Big Switch, so the color selection was made by graduate social work student Bridgette Harris, who filled in as dean for that morning.

"She got to pick colors for the hallway," Dr. Hernández said. "She's going to be all over the hallways for a long time." Harris was excited to choose the colors because she figured the painters only come by "like once a century."

As part of Homecoming, nine students switched places with nine deans and associates for a morning. The "student deans" learn about administration while the deans go to the students' classes, said Jamie Williams, chair of the Homecoming Committee and assistant director of Student Governance and Organizations. The students chosen to participate were picked at random from 200 who volunteered to be part of the program.

In addition to selecting paint, Harris met with President Robert E. Witt and Provost George Wright, and approved a newsletter. "I think she had a good, full day," said Dr. Hernández, adding that Harris was a good representative of the students.

Dr. Hernández switched with an undergraduate last year and a graduate student this year. He said the switch gives him a good feel for what the students experience.

"It's always a lot different when you see things from the other side of the desk," he said. "I walked away quite impressed with the caliber of instruction."

He joked that the students probably enjoy having the deans sit in classroom furniture for a few hours. "I walked away thinking, 'We've got to do something about these desks.' "

Harris said she learned the most about monetary issues.

"I didn't know about the funding," such as how UTA receives money from grants. She also discovered that deans don't have drivers to take them around campus. So what was her least favorite part of the job? "Walking. I did not like that at all!"


shim shim shim shim shim shim shim