GSPM founding dean to leave post after 23 years

The founding director of the Graduate School of Political Management announced last week that he will step down July 1, saying the school has grown immensely since its inception and is well placed to continue on with a new director.

Chris Arterton has been with the school since 1987 and has served as its first director, watching it grow from a tiny program with 450 students to a top school of political management with more than 1,800 alumni.

“In making this announcement I am thrilled by what we have achieved, and am excited about my future role in making The Graduate School of Political Management the world’s premier school of practical politics,” Arterton said in the announcement.

During his tenure, Arterton aided GSPM in receiving several foundational grants including a $3 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trust. The school also initiated a national nonpartisan competition, called Innovations in Youth Voting – which teamed with the Rock the Vote campaign – to support novel strategies for registering voters under the age of 30 for the 2006 election cycle. Recently, the school has begun collaborating with the Council on American Politics, receiving advice as well as branding and public relations assistance from 40 prominent politicos in Washington, and has established a program to teach city and local officials in South America politics and management. Arterton said last fall the school is well placed to be the top political management school in America and he sees the school’s mission – to improve politics by educating students and professionals in the tools, principles and values of participatory democracy – as a necessity in the future of politics.

“I have been doing this job for 22.5 years and the time has come,” Arterton said in an e-mail to The Hatchet. Arterton will not retire from GW after he leaves his director post; instead he will return to a faculty role by providing leadership for GSPM’s Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet. He also expects to continue fundraising for the school.

“I look forward to returning to my major research interest – the nexus between communications media and politics, that field has become very exciting and dynamic,” Arterton said of his future role at IPDI. As for the school’s future, he said change often strengthens institutions.

“I believe a transition in leadership is an opportunity for institutional strengthening,” he said. “As the founding dean, the school reflects my goals, aspirations and values, perhaps too much. New leadership will take the GSPM in some different directions and that will be good, meaning that the school is not just a creation of one person.”

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said the departure reflects Arterton’s wish to focus on academics.

“There comes a time when all of us who hold high-level administrative positions decide that it is time for a change in what we are doing… [Arterton] wants to focus on his scholarly endeavors, which is not at all easily done with the heavy administrative duties associated with being the dean of GSPM.”

Jamie Baker, the College of Professional Studies Student Association representative and a political management student, said that Arterton “transformed” the school during his tenure.

The University currently “is in the process of forming a search committee and establishing a position description” for an executive director of GSPM, College of Professional Studies Dean Kathleen Burke said. Chuck Cushman, the associate dean for academic excellence in the College of Professional Studies, will assume the role of acting executive director until the new one is named, according to Arteron’s announcement.

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