Amy Sueyoshi, newly appointed Dean of Ethnic Studies, poses for a portrait in Humanities 311 on Friday, April 5. (JAMES CHAN/ Golden Gate Xpress)
The University hired Amy Sueyoshi as the dean of the College of Ethnic Studies (COES) Thursday after a six-month search to fill the job began last year in the wake of former-dean Kenneth P. Monteiro’s resignation.
Sueyoshi served as the interim-dean for the past 17 months and applied for the permanent position after the University declared a national search to fill the position. The College was looking for a dean that would serve to better the community and strengthen the college.
“I’m super honored and feel very privileged to be in the role,” Sueyoshi said. “ I realized that it’s a tremendous responsibility but I’m really excited.”
Monteiro said he resigned because he could better serve the college as a faculty member. He said he had too many different concerns for the University, such as correcting the structural budget, which the University has since then done.
“I felt that the legal issues and concerns that I had about the University were getting in the way of my ability to serve the college as well as I thought the college deserved,” Monteiro said.
He believes the dean should have high-powered energy to keep up with the students and faculty and be anchored in Ethnic Studies to nurture its development.
“Professor Sueyoshi is both a brilliant scholar but she’s also a very dynamic and very committed administrator,” Monteiro said. “She really does the work because she cares about the students.”
The college’s search committee started considering applicants last fall, ultimately narrowing the list of candidates down to three.
The other two candidates under consideration were English Department Chairperson at Kennesaw State University, Sheila Smith McKoy, and Asian American Studies Department Chairperson at UCLA, Jun Xing.
Smith McKoy is a graduate of Duke University with a Ph.D. in English and directed focus on African and Diaspora studies in student and faculty engagement.
Xing specializes in race and ethnicity, history of relations between the U.S. and China and social justice education.
Sueyoshi said being the interim-dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State was something that she was aware of when running for the permanent dean position.
“It’s tricky when you’re what’s called the inside candidate and people kinda see you for who you are,” she said. “It’s really a testing ground for the candidate to see if they do well, not just for the institution but also for the individual themselves.”
Although Sueyoshi agrees that being interim-dean likely shaped the way she was received in the job pool, there were a lot of qualifications that had to be met as well.
Part of the search process was to write a cover letter, articulate a vision for the college and to perform well during the campus visit.
“The dean should be someone who is engaged, has a diverse sense of the community and is engaged with their community,” said Andrew Jolivétte, professor and former chairperson of the American Indian Studies Department.
Jolivétte has been a professor at SF State for the past 18 years and is in his last semester before moving to San Diego to teach ethnic studies.
“I’m glad that the college that I care about, and am leaving, will be in great hands,” he said.
Jolivétte said Sueyoshi has been involved in the community, advocated for students in the past and has a broad disciplinary background of many of the studies that fall under the ethnic umbrella.
“It’s not just because I’ve worked with her. The other candidates were strong and I talked to [Smith McKoy] and did my research on them,” Jolivétte said. “Amy has a strong background and is the right person for this time. She has the right qualities.”
Sueyoshi said she hopes to advance student success, engage curriculum and faculty development. She also said she wants to build a presence of ethnic studies classes into upper division general education, such as life and physical sciences.
In addition, she has helped create the race and resistance program alongside Monteiro. She’s worked on administrative pieces, committees, writing proposals and creating minors such as queer ethnic studies, critical Pacific Island and Oceania studies.
“I really want to continue to promote these kinds of pathways for success for students,” Sueyoshi said. “The College of Ethnic Studies has a high success rate, retention as well as graduation rate and so we want to continue supporting that.”
Her vision for COES is to facilitate a productive and powerful workplace to inspire faculty and student engagement.
“I consider myself a servant-leader, someone who serves others constituents,” Sueyoshi said. “I find myself to be more collaborative than authoritarian. The best way to work with people is not in a punitive form, but developmental.”