GSPM drops Ph.D. requirement in search

University administrators loosened the requirements for candidates seeking the executive director position at the Graduate School of Political Management after faculty said that the original standards for the position conflicted with the school’s vision.

Originally, all applicants for the position were required to possess a Ph.D. to be considered for the spot. Discontent with that prerequisite, as well as a general sentiment that faculty and alumni were left out of the original executive director search, led to an outcry from many members of the school in February, and later led the University to scrap the original search and start anew.

In the second search – which will be conducted by a yet-to-be-determined search firm – the Ph.D. requirement has been dropped, which College of Professional Studies Dean Kathleen Burke and University Provost Steven Lerman said will widen the candidate pool.

“Dean Burke and the provost have discussed the merits of broadening the search by stating that a Ph.D. would be ‘preferred,’ ” rather than required, University spokeswoman Courtney Bowe said.

Bowe said the qualifications for the school’s next executive director will be discussed with the search committee when it is fully formed.

Burke and Lerman are also reaching out to groups within the school that have voiced concerns since February that they were being left out, and oftentimes ignored, by Burke during the first search.

Burke did not return a request for comment.

To rectify the feeling of discontent, Burke and Lerman will meet at the end of this week with members of the Council on American Politics, GSPM’s advisory committee and a major source of funding and outreach for GSPM.

A member of the council, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his ongoing relationship with the University, said the way the University handles the new search may affect how aggressively councilmembers fundraise for the school.

“The value of the program is the practical application of politics and everyone who’s concerned sees that as no longer the top priority,” the CAP member said.

Meanwhile, adjunct faculty members – who also felt slighted during the first search for a new director – formed an informal three-person committee aimed at representing adjuncts’ interests moving forward.

Though adjuncts make up the majority of the political management school’s faculty, they were not given a representative on the original search committee and said their appeals to administrators to participate in the process were largely ignored.

“At [last] week’s faculty meeting, there was a consensus about the tone and the tenor that’s been arching about the search,” Gary Nordlinger, a campaign consultant and an adjunct faculty member who has been involved with GSPM for more than 15 years, said.

Together with professors Julius Hobson, Jr., and Jessica Townsend Teague, Nordlinger will work to coordinate adjunct faculty interests and offer assistance in the search.

“All we want to do is be helpful if we can be helpful. And if people don’t feel that we can be helpful, well OK,” Nordlinger said.

“We, as adjuncts, are looking forward to contributing to the ongoing process of the search in any way that will support the most positive outcome for all stake holders – for the University, the school, staff, students and beneficiaries of GW educated practitioners’ expertise,” Teague, who teaches political leadership skills at GSPM, said.

Hobson did not immediately return a request for comment.

Chris Arterton, founding dean of GSPM who now serves on the faculty of the school, said leadership skills will be critical to the future success of GSPM.

“I think that the full-time faculty shares the aspirations of the adjuncts that the new executive director have both the credentials and the experience necessary to lead the school, both within the University community and among the professional communuity of those practicing political management,” Arterton said.

Burke and Lerman have been working closely for the last few weeks to form a search committee and select an outside firm for the search, which will assist in the hunt for a director by identifying candidates and checking references, Lerman said.

Moving forward, he set a tentative goal of selecting a new GSPM director by the end of the calendar year.

“It will take as long as it takes,” Lerman said. “The goal is to get an outstanding leader for the group, not to do it by a particular time.”

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