Columbian College to begin search for new dean

Administrators will conduct an extensive national search to find a permanent dean for the Columbian Colleges of Arts and Sciences after this month’s announcement that current Dean William Frawley will be leaving GW to become president of the University of Mary Washington.

The first step in the process is to appoint an interim dean, whom Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman hopes will be installed by March. Lehman said the interim dean will be someone from within the college, and he or she may have an opportunity to apply for the permanent dean’s position.

“The normal procedure is to consult with department chairs and associate and assistant deans and get their suggestions and input to identify possible candidates for interim dean,” Lehman said.

Frawley will be in charge of setting up meetings with CCAS faculty in the upcoming weeks to find an interim dean for the school, whom Lehman will ultimately appoint. Frawley will officially begin as president of UMW July 1.

Lehman said that after the interim dean has been named the University will begin its national search for a permanent replacement. He added that the University has made no final decisions on how the national search process will be conducted.

After a national search, Lehman and University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg will narrow the field to three finalists from which to pick the dean, Lehman said.

“We want someone who will provide leadership with vision consistent with the vision of President Trachtenberg and myself and committed to carrying out the strategic goals for academic excellence,” Lehman said.

Lehman added that he hopes to have a new permanent dean in place by the first day of classes next fall. The dean will oversee the Columbian College’s 400 faculty and 41 departments.

GW last conducted a search for a permanent dean of CCAS in 2001, when the then-head of the Columbian College, Lester Lefton, left GW to become provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Tulane University. Frawley came to GW in 2002 from the University of Delaware, where he was director of Academic Programming and Planning.

This year’s CCAS dean search will be the fifth for the head of a GW school in the last two years. There have been two searches for a director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, a search for a Law School dean and a search for an Elliott School of International Affairs dean.

Trachtenberg said at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting that when GW deans such as Frawley are recruited to head other universities, it is a good sign for GW. He said he would not be surprised if the trend continues at an increasing rate as GW becomes increasingly recognized.

The University has not yet decided if they will use a professional independent search firm to aid in the dean’s search, Lehman said. Such firms, located mainly in Washington, D.C., and New York City, are employed by colleges and universities around the nation to conduct searches for deans, said Roger Trangsrud, the former interim dean of the Law School.

“Search firms can be good or bad,” Trangsrud said. Trangsrud said it is unlikely that GW would promote someone already at the school to fulfill the permanent dean’s post.

“Schools typically look for outside candidates because they have the ability bring a fresh perspective and the connection to a distinguished institution,” Trangsrud said.

-Brandon Butler contributed to this report.

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