Six searches for permanent leaders of GW’s schools or colleges are in different stages of the selection process.
The deans of the College of Professional Studies, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the law school and the director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design have stepped down from their posts or announced their intentions to resign in the last year and a half.
Higher education experts said the high number of vacancies is “unusual” to occur simultaneously, but interim deans should be capable of handling the leaders’ responsibilities while searches continue.
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
Former CCAS Dean Ben Vinson stepped down last spring after accepting a position as provost and executive vice president of Case Western Reserve University. A month after Vinson announced he would leave GW, Paul Wahlbeck was appointed interim dean of CCAS and has since remained in the position.
Officials launched a search for a permanent dean in November and organized a search committee, but the search was placed on hold last week pending the selection of a new provost who can be involved in the search. Provost Forrest Maltzman announced he would resign last month.
Jean-Pierre Bardet, the dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Miami, said the decision to delay the search until after a new provost is chosen is “logical” because the incoming provost can oversee the CCAS dean search process. He said officials may not have suspended the other dean searches because of the urgency of those searches.
“In order to create more team spirit, usually we appoint a captain and then we appoint team members,” he said.
School of Engineering and Applied Science
After serving in his position for 10 years, former SEAS Dean David Dolling announced in May 2018 that he would resign by the end of the summer. Rumana Riffat, a former associate dean of SEAS, has served as interim dean since August.
Officials formed a search committee last December consisting of fourteen faculty members, administrators, trustees, students and alumni. The search has reached an “advanced stage” as of April, according to the search firm Isaacson, Miller, which the University hired to conduct the search.
University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said several candidates have visited GW and engaged with students, faculty and alumni. She said administrators hope to announce the new dean this summer.
Bardet, the dean at the University of Miami, said the “advanced stage” of the search could signal that a few individuals in an applicant pool have been identified as the finalists and that the University is no longer looking for new applicants.
“At that stage, they are also saying to the outside world, ‘We have enough that we are happy with what we’ve got,’” he said.
School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Jeffrey Akman, the dean of the medical school, announced in January that he will step down from his position once a successor is chosen and will return to his previous role as a faculty member. SMHS officials in March formed a search committee, chaired by Anton Sidaway, the chair of the surgery department and a professor of surgery, for the position.
In February, law school Dean Blake Morant announced his intention to step down at the end of the semester and take a sabbatical before returning to a faculty position. Earlier this month, officials named Christopher Bracey, the vice provost for faculty affairs and a professor of law, as the school’s interim dean.
The search for the next permanent head began last month with the formation of a search committee chaired by Ralph Steinhardt, a professor of comparative law and jurisprudence.
College of Professional Studies
Ali Eskandarian, the former dean of CPS and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, resigned from his position in January 2018. Christopher Deering, the former associate dean and associate provost of CPS and VSTC, has served as interim dean since Eskandarian left.
Csellar said Deering will continue to oversee CPS and VSTC for the “foreseeable future.”
She declined to say if a dean search will start next academic year and why officials have not begun a search for a permanent dean.
Kevin Dunn, the vice provost of Tufts University, said the search for the permanent dean and the formation of a search committee might be delayed because officials could be reevaluating the position’s responsibilities or deciding what type of background is desired for the next dean.
“With colleges of professional studies, sometimes there is a decision about whether you want to hire someone who’s a more traditional academic or someone who has a lot of experience in the business of education,” he said.
Higher education experts said in December that officials might be considering creating two separate positions to oversee CPS and VSTC. Csellar declined to say if the next dean will oversee both CPS and VSTC or only one.
Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
Corcoran Director Sanjit Sethi announced earlier this month that he will leave his position in July to serve as president of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Csellar said information about the appointment of an interim dean will be “forthcoming” and declined to specify when a search for the next director will begin.
This article appeared in the May 20, 2019 issue of the Hatchet.