McDaniel College announces new deans

McDaniel College announces new deans

McDaniel College announces the recent promotion of two faculty members as deans of the college.

  • Mary Bendel-Simso of Westminster, Maryland, is the new dean of the faculty at McDaniel.

As Professor of English at McDaniel, Bendel-Simso has taught in the English Department since 1995. She has served as faculty secretary and on various faculty committees, including two terms on the faculty affairs committee. She was the 2013 recipient of the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award and was named an inaugural Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., Engaged Faculty Fellow in 2017. For over 25 years, she has been involved in leading the college’s Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. She also has served as an advisor for the Lambda Iota Tau literary honor society.

In collaboration with the late Professor Emeritus of English LeRoy Lad Panek, she has been involved in research and the production of the Westminster Detective Library, an online collection of short detective fiction published in the United States before 1891, with the help of undergraduate assistants from McDaniel. She is co-author of “Essential Elements of the Detective Story, 1820-1891” and co-editor of “Early American Detective Stories: An Anthology.” 

Her teaching interests also include American literature, literature by women, and mystery and detective fiction. A graduate of St. Catherine University (formerly the College of St. Catherine) in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a bachelor’s degree in English, she earned both a master’s and Ph.D. from Binghamton University (formerly the State University of New York at Binghamton).

  • Chloe Irla of Westminster, Maryland, begins as assistant dean of faculty development and director of the Honors Program.

Irla graduated from McDaniel in 2007, summa cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and a minor in Art History. She has taught digital art and design courses at McDaniel since 2016, first as a visiting assistant professor of Art, before being hired to teach full time as an assistant professor of Art in 2017. She was promoted to associate professor of Art in 2022 and, most recently, served as chair of the Art Department. She also served as a special advisor to the provost on well-being initiatives.

She has worked collaboratively across disciplines with other faculty and students and has been involved in community-service projects at the McDaniel Environmental Center, as well as with the Carroll Arts Center, Rape Crisis Intervention Services of Carroll County (now CARE Healing Center), and Westminster’s Recreation and Parks. Irla earned the Nora Roberts Faculty Award and Faculty Development Grant in 2018, the Ira G. Zepp Teaching Enhancement Grant in 2020, and was named a Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., Engaged Faculty Fellow in 2020. She was recognized as the 2024 recipient of the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award. She is a member of the Carroll County Arts Council and volunteers for MTBMD, advocating for shared trail use and outdoor recreation at the Hashawha Environmental Center.

In addition to her bachelor's degree from McDaniel, she holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Mount Royal School of Art at Maryland Institute College of Art in addition to a certificate in the college teaching of art and post-baccalaureate certificate in studio art. A practicing artist, Irla maintains irladen, a design studio producing limited-edition collections of books, patterns, clothing, accessories, and home goods, and has exhibited nationally, including both solo and faculty exhibitions at McDaniel, online, and internationally in Bulgaria, Canada, and Korea.

For more information about McDaniel College, visit

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McDaniel College, founded in 1867, is a four-year, independent college of the liberal arts and sciences offering more than 70 undergraduate programs of study, including pre-professional specializations and student-designed majors, and over 20 graduate programs. One of the original “Colleges That Change Lives,” McDaniel emphasizes experiential learning and student-faculty collaboration to develop the unique potential in every student. Represented by the Green Terror, its over 20 athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division III Centennial Conference. A student-centered community of 1,800 undergraduates and 1,400 graduate students offers access to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., plus a European campus in Budapest, Hungary.

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