School of Media and Public Affairs Director Jean Folkerts will serve as interim dean of the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences effective May 23, GW announced last week. Current Dean Lester Lefton will become the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Tulane University in New Orleans.
“I think it will be an interesting and different way of looking at the University,” Folkerts said. “I’ve always seen it as a member of the department, and now I’ll see it in a broader way.”
Eric Solomon, who works for GW Media Relations, said Folkerts will assume all the duties a permanent dean would have, including overseeing the general operations of the Columbian School.
Folkerts said she plans to take the position until GW appoints a new dean. She said Jan. 1, 2002, is the earliest the University could come to a decision, but it will probably take all of the next academic year.
“I probably won’t be (the interim dean) later than July 1 (2002),” she said. “That’s the goal.”
Political communications professor Jarol Manheim will serve as acting SMPA director until Folkerts returns.
Folkerts, who was named director of SMPA in 1998 after a year as acting director, also teaches an introductory SMPA class. Folkerts taught at Mount Vernon College before GW purchased the school.
GW Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said Folkerts was selected for her knowledge of fundraising, her experience with cross-school majors and her overall leadership ability.
Lehman said that Folkerts is familiar with the Arts and Sciences Council, a group of deans and prominent members of the community and around the country that work raise money for their schools.
“It’s not just the council, it’s the fact that she knows some of the key people that we expect to participate with contributions to (CSAS),” Lehman said.
As provost at Tulane, Lefton will be second in command to the university’s president, Lehman said.
“I (will be) responsible for the deans, all the faculty, the library, the administration on the uptown (main) campus, everything but the medical school,” Lefton said.
Lefton said he is sad to leave GW, but the Tulane job was too good to pass up.
Lefton, who will complete his fourth year as Columbian School dean in May, said he accomplished many of his goals.
“We have better advising, more money for programs and an expanded curriculum among other things,” he said. “We have new programs for undergraduates as well as graduates, and we established the cross-school major to make it possible to be in CSAS and have a second major in ESIA.”
Lefton also said he will not inherit any major problems at Tulane.
“They’re looking for leadership,” he said. “There’s nothing pressing,
no crisis, but they’d like me to help them bring it to the next level. So I’m looking forward to the challenge of providing leadership.”
Lefton said Folkerts’s experience in the SMPA will help her in the new role.
“She and I have worked together for the past few years, and she’s done a terrific job,” he said. “She’s a good fundraiser, has solid academic credentials, is well liked and helped build and orchestrate the new SMPA building. Sometimes interims don’t care, but her goal is the keep the momentum going.”
Senior David Kanevsky, a political communications major who took Folkerts’ SMPA 50 class in the fall of 1999, said he was disappointed to see her leave the program, but sees opportunities for the school.
“On one hand she’s a good professor and it would be bad to see her taken out of classroom,” he said. “But on the other hand, I’m curious to see how it helps the SMPA, by having someone in the Columbian School who could dedicate more resources to the SMPA.”
Folkerts said she was excited for her new job.
“I’m looking forward to an interesting year,” she said. “But I hate leaving my beautiful new building.”