The College of Professional Studies finally resolved its months-long leadership crisis last week by hiring Ali Eskandarian to head the school. Eskandarian’s role will also include taking the reigns of the Virginia Science and Technology Campus.
In his new dual role, Eskandarian will face schools of very different minds. The College of Professional Studies and Virginia’s education centers emphasize research, and are often stepping stones to achieve terminal degrees. But also under the CPS umbrella is the Graduate School of Political Management, which has a principal focus on practical application and increasing one’s skill set.
This difference led to discontent in the past, and Eskandarian must be keenly aware of it as he enters his new role. For better or for worse, GSPM does not grant priority to the same values that many of the schools housed at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus do, and as Eskandarian is taking the helm of more than just CPS, his role as one who can balance these two different mind-sets is even more important.
Last year, members of GSPM and CPS Dean Kathleen Burke had an increasingly tenuous relationship as GSPM faculty and students complained that Burke failed to be receptive of their input during the school’s director search. GSPM still remains without a permanent executive director.
Eskandarian should continue to work closely with members of the GSPM in order to ensure he is engaging the school and modulating his expectations and priorities according to GSPM’s inherent differences in values and priorities.
Eskandarian will soon step into a leadership position that requires him to reconcile two disparate philosophies. Hopefully he will be able to strike a balance between leading the two without forcing either to change its interests.