Kat Namon ’22
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sonia Cardenas has announced the appointment of two new associate academic deans, Associate Professor of Computer Science Taku Miyazaki, who will serve as Associate Dean for Faculty Development, and Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Mitch Polin, who will serve as the Associate Dean for Curriculum.
Polin and Miyazaki will serve two-year terms with the Dean’s Office and fill two vacancies among the office’s chief leadership roles.
Both Professors will join the administrative team on June 15, according to the May 27 email, to serve two-year terms in those positions. The search for new associate deans began with Cardenas calling upon the faculty to express interest in the positions, followed by a selection process that included an application, recommendations from faculty colleagues, interviews, and vetting by a committee of senior faculty who had reviewed a previous dean and by the staff in the Dean’s Office.
Cardenas spoke with the Tripod and expressed excitement to work with both Miyazaki and Polin, whose roles will include working “very closely with academic departments and programs, as well as governance groups, to plan our academic offerings for the fall.” Cardenas added that she is “excited and honored” to be working with Miyazaki and Polin.
Miyazaki came to Trinity in 2001, focusing for the past several years on projects in a branch of theoretical computer science known as computational complexity theory. He has served as department chair since 2015, in addition to serving on the Educational Policy Committee and the Curriculum Committee, as well as the President’s Coordinating Group for Implementation of the Strategic Plan. He was highly regarded by Cardenas, who stated in her email to the faculty that he is “committed to deepening the professional development and diversity of our faculty, and he will bring a fresh perspective on the role of technology and teaching.” Additionally, Cardenas said he has been described by fellow faculty members as “consistently open-minded, honest, and fair.”
Polin is an alumnus of Trinity and has been teaching at the College since 2001. He has served as department chair, co-director of the Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (TIIS), director of the InterArts Gateway and Film Studies Program, and has also served on numerous elected faculty committees. He has also served as chair of the Curriculum Committee, and played a role in the development of both Trinity’s new curriculum and the College’s response to COVID-19.
As a professional dramaturg, director, and playwright, he was praised by fellow faculty members, according to Cardenas in her email to the faculty, for his “creative professionalism; his ability to collaborate and respect differences, while mediating solutions; and his capacity to think both conceptually and practically about complex curricular questions.”
Mssrs. Polin and Miyazaki offered shared comments to the Tripod in an interview. Both will be working closely together along with the College’s academic administration, specifically Cardenas, in order to ensure the “continued development of the academic programs at the College during one of the most challenging periods in the College’s history.”
Polin added that he hopes to utilize his training in artistic research and practice to “enable open dialog between a wide pool of individuals” in addition to lending “critical and creative voice to collegewide conversations.” He hopes to learn from fellow administrators, colleagues, and the Board of Trustees “in an effort to imagine and manifest productive and positive pathways forward.”
Miyazaki shared similar hopes and goals as Polin, but intends to take advantage of his background in computer science, a discipline “at the forefront of the information revolution in academia.” In the interest of progressing as a College, Miyazaki hopes to “promote Trinity as a twenty-first-century liberal arts college, while remaining true to our core values.”
Polin and Miyazaki fill the academic deanships left vacant by Professor of Language and Culture Studies Anne Lambright, who is leaving Trinity June 30 to chair the Modern Languages Department at Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Associate Professor of Mathematics Melanie Stein, who left last June to serve as Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Ithaca College.