Faculty leaders sign letter opposing suspension of CCAS dean search

More than 10 current and former members of the Faculty Senate signed a letter opposing the decision to delay the search for the next dean of GW’s largest school.

The senators, all of whom are Columbian College of Arts and Sciences faculty members, sent a letter obtained by The Hatchet last week to University President Thomas LeBlanc urging him to reconsider placing the search for a permanent CCAS dean on hold until a new provost is selected. The signatories are demanding an explanation for the CCAS dean search’s delay when other dean searches, like the School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ search, remain ongoing.

“In the spirit of shared governance and transparent leadership, we deserve some explanation of a decision that is highly prejudicial to the health and stability of the college,” the letter states.

None of the letter’s signatories returned multiple requests for comment.

Last month, officials announced the suspension of the search, which began last November, until a new provost is selected, citing the “critical” relationship between the University’s chief academic officer and the head of the GW’s largest academic unit. Paul Wahlbeck, who was appointed interim CCAS dean almost a year ago when former Dean Ben Vinson resigned, will remain in the post until a new dean is selected.

Provost Forrest Maltzman announced in April that he would step down from his post once officials choose his successor. A search committee formed later that month with the goal of compiling a list of candidates during the summer to finalize the search by fall.

The faculty members said in the letter that they found the decision to delay the search contradictory in light of the selection of a new School of Engineering and Applied Science dean last month and ongoing searches for other deans. Three candidates for the CCAS dean position were sent to LeBlanc to review before the decision to postpone the search was made, the letter states.

“With various changes being considered such as reducing undergraduate enrollment, increasing STEM majors and possibly cutting programs, strong leadership is needed,” the letter states. “CCAS needs a dean now, not an interim dean for possibly several years.”

The senators expressed in the letter their desire to meet with LeBlanc to discuss the issue during the summer or the Faculty Senate meeting in September to receive an “explanation.” Faculty members called on LeBlanc to appoint Wahlbeck to the post of permanent CCAS dean to build a “reservoir of social capital” as the school considers reducing undergraduate enrollment and cutting programs, according to the letter.

“This is an opportunity to show the faculty that you have listened to their concerns and that you treat all the schools fairly,” the letter states.

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