The leader of the College of Professional Studies and the Virginia campus will resign from both leadership positions at the end of January, the University announced Wednesday.
Ali Eskandarian, the dean of the College of Professional Studies and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, will go on sabbatical during the spring semester to “focus on planning his future research and academic pursuits,” according to a University release. Christopher Deering, VSTC’s senior associate dean and associate provost, will serve as interim dean.
“Entering the seventh year of my tenure serving GW in two distinct administrative positions simultaneously, each with heavy responsibilities of its own, I am gratified that both units are doing well and resting on solid foundations for future growth,” Eskandarian said in the release. “Now is the right time to take a sabbatical from administration to focus on my own scientific research as well as other intellectual and professional interests.”
Eskandarian, who stepped into his joint role in 2011, has turned CPS into an online learning leader at GW, with programs appealing to working professionals and non-traditional students. Last year, more than half of the college’s revenue came from online programs.
Those programs have come under scrutiny in recent months after a group of students sued GW in 2016 claiming their online CPS master’s degree program did not live up to University promises. The lawsuit prompted a faculty online learning task force that found a lack of oversight in online degree programs University-wide.
Provost Forrest Maltzman credited Eskandarian with developing new programs that are “responsive to the changing needs of students.”
“Importantly, these efforts have also expanded access to higher education for non-traditional students through bachelor degree completion and specialized master’s degree programs and through non-credit bearing programs that are designed to meet the needs of both students and institutions that partner with the school,” Maltzman said in the release.
Eskandarian also oversaw the growth of VSTC, which has housed new programs and more students in recent years as GW has sought a presence in rapidly growing northern Virginia. The total number of students taking classes at the VSTC jumped more than 50 percent to about 660 students for the fall 2017.
Despite VSTC’s growth, senior officials have expressed concern in recent months that the campus lacks a clear identity and remains isolated from the rest of campus.