It may be a change from working at a law school, but Carol Parker says she’s looking forward to her new role as assistant vice president for faculty affairs here at Emerson, a position that was re-envisioned recently to focus on faculty development and personnel issues.
Parker began working at the College, in Academic Affairs, on July 8 after spending the past 21 years as a professor and associate dean at the University of Tennessee College of Law.
“I’m really excited about being in a multidisciplinary atmosphere,” Parker said. “There’s a lot of overlap between legal education and liberal arts because both emphasize critical thinking, and like Emerson, a law school is a professional school that integrates theory and practice in teaching and learning.”
At Emerson, which specializes in communication and the arts in a liberal arts context, that might mean students and faculty crafting a film together in a class, while in law, students and faculty are carefully analyzing a legal case and how it applies to a client’s situation,” she said.
Parker has a BS in education and an MA in counseling psychology from Northwestern University, and a JD from the University of Illinois.
She joined the faculty at Tennessee in 1994 as the director of legal writing. She taught courses on the legal process, intellectual property, copyright, torts, healthcare law and regulation, and healthcare policy. She also coordinated the academic support program and served on the University of Tennessee’s institutional review board.
In her new role at Emerson, Parker said much of her focus will be on expanding the College’s mentoring of faculty to include mid-career faculty and supporting all faculty in their teaching, creative work, and scholarship. Other responsibilities include organizing faculty orientations, overseeing faculty search processes, implementing academic initiatives, and serving as a resource for academic timelines and processes for review, tenure, and promotion.
“There are a lot of ways the mentoring program can grow,” she said. “I’m looking forward to that aspect.”
Parker said she brings strengths to her role by having the experience as both a professor and an associate dean for academic affairs at Tennessee from 2008 to 2014.
“For 10 years, I was the director of the writing program and I taught various classes, so the administrative work was about a quarter or a third of my load,” she said. “More recently, when I was associate dean, the administrative tasks became the majority of what I was doing and focused on faculty affairs; encouraging faculty in their professional growth was my favorite part of the job. I’ve taught as a part-time faculty member, a contract faculty member, and a tenured professor, and those experiences have shown me that opportunities for professional development are vital for all faculty and can take many forms.”
Parker is no stranger to the Boston area. She said she’s visited the area “once or twice a year for years” to see relatives.
“Everything just came together and this change felt like a good idea,” she said of her new job. “Emerson has a great reputation. People are enthusiastic about what they do, and that matters to me. This position is something I knew I could put a lot into and enjoy.”
Parker has also taught legal writing at Indiana University and DePaul University; and she practiced law at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago.
Parker served on the editorial board of the Legal Communication and Rhetoric: Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors for 10 years; served as chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research; and was a member of the board of directors of the Legal Writing Institute.
The faculty search committee for Parker’s hiring was chaired by Jan Roberts-Breslin and included Jane Shattuc, Rob Todd, Eileen McBride, and Cathryn Cushner Edelstein.