GSPM restarts director search

The Graduate School of Political Management is restarting its director search, after the dean that oversees the school said none of the candidates were deemed fit for the job.

The announcement comes on the heels of complaints from adjunct faculty and alumni in GSPM, who said College of Professional Studies Dean Kathleen Burke was not inclusive in the hiring process, and created impractical hiring requirements that would hurt the quality and type of leader the school needs to thrive.

“While many fine candidates applied for the position, in the final analysis, I determined that no one candidate was a perfect fit for achieving the aspirations and goals that we all hold for the school,” Burke said in a letter sent to select groups within GSPM and the College of Professional Studies, which houses GSPM.

The new search will be conducted by an outside search firm, a method not previously used.

The executive director pool was whittled down to three candidates, including acting director Charles Cushman. Candidates for the position had to possess a Ph.D. or law degree, a prerequisite that disqualified some professionals in the field of political management – including a former congressman.

“It is not University practice to comment on details related to past, current or future searches, including internal communications and candidate names,” Burke said in a statement provided by the Office of Media Relations.

Throughout the search process, adjunct faculty members and alumni asked for more opportunities to participate, sending letters to University administrators and Burke, but said they never received a response addressing their concerns.

Burke’s letter announcing the new search was not immediately shared with adjunct faculty.

Ed Grefe, an adjunct professor in GSPM who was frustrated with Burke’s hiring priorities, said the decision to restart the search process is a step in the right direction, but said Burke needs to meet the adjunct faculty members halfway by sitting down with them and listening to their concerns before the process moves forward.

“If people feel they’re not being listened to, it is a very frustrating process. We asked to sit down and talk with her and that just didn’t happen. It creates a sense of distrust,” Grefe said.

Grefe, who spoke out in a Hatchet article about the adjunct faculty’s frustrations with the search process, said Burke attempted to fire him for his comments about her hiring priorities. Grefe said he learned of the incident from a fellow faculty member.

Cushman – GSPM’s acting director – was allegedly asked to fire Grefe, but declined to comment on any conversations among the senior GSPM faculty. He said, however, that he considers Grefe a valued and respected member of the adjunct faculty.

“He is teaching now for the GSPM and will continue to do so,” Cushman said in an e-mail. “I expect Ed to continue to serve our students with the same dedication that has been his hallmark for nearly 16 years.”

Burke declined to say if she asked for Grefe’s dismissal but said “should [his] course continue to be offered, Mr. Grefe would continue to be contacted about teaching it.”

As for the next search committee, faculty and alumni interviewed hope that they can be more involved, even with an outside firm assisting in the process.

“Now that there’s a more open search, I would love to see, and would hope to see, a representative from the [GSPM] Alumni Association and the faculty and the students [on the search committee] so that their input and guidance can be heard,” Robert Thorman, president of the GSPM Alumni Association, said.

GSPM hasn’t released information about the composition of the new committee.

“[The previous search committee’s] efforts were instrumental in allowing us to test the pool, and their work will become the basis for the new search going forward,” Burke said in her letter. “I am confident that the two searches will ultimately lead us to identify the GSPM’s next leader.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.