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McLean Named Dean of Arts and Sciences

Janna McLean, Ph.D., dean of arts and sciences at Bethel CollegeBethel College announces the hiring of Janna R. McLean, Ph.D., as the dean of arts and sciences. McLean replaces Tom Visker, Ph.D., who began his tenure as athletic director for the college on July 1. McLean most recently served as the dean of the college of arts and sciences and as professor of biology at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill.

“Dr. McLean is a wonderful fit for Bethel College,” says Barb Bellefeuille, Ed.D., vice president for academic services. “She has extensive experience in higher education leadership and combines her academic qualifications with her desire to mentor students and faculty. Her outlook on life is relaxed and fun, but she is serious about the blending of faith and learning in college life.”

Throughout McLean’s career she has been a contributor to the advancement of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and has been involved with the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) since 1996.

She is also passionate about teaching students to think critically in the classroom instead of memorizing facts, something that has been evident in her approach to teaching biology. “Science is a living area of study — since we learn more every day, we can’t be content with learning facts, but instead have to learn how to ask questions and how to think critically about the results of experiments,” says McLean. She brings this perspective to her new position and aims to help students develop a love for learning and critical thinking in whatever field they choose to study.

McLean is active in researching Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly, and is a frequent presenter at Drosophila genetics research conferences. She is intentional about involving students in her research, using it as a way to mentor them and prepare them for the future. Her students have published papers about their work and presented their findings at regional and national meetings, and she plans to continue both her research and student mentoring at Bethel.

“I’m excited about the opportunities at Bethel,” says McLean. “I feel like my gifts fit the needs of the college and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get working as part of the Bethel community.”

Outside of the classroom and office, McLean is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and served on the board of directors for the YWCA in Kankakee, Ill., where she worked to obtain a $2 million grant to expand their childcare program, more than doubling the number of students served. She and her husband, John, have two grown sons.