Proposal to consolidate dean positions met with criticism from faculty, former deans

Jack Belcher, Senior News Reporter

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Editor’s Note: In an email sent to President James Gaudino on Feb. 1, Provost Katherine Frank rescinded her proposal to consolidate the dean of library and graduate studies based on feedback from stakeholders and the faculty senate. Frank, in the same email, also expressed her gratitude towards those who have given feedback the time of constructive conversation.

A new concept is being discussed between faculty and CWU administration for a proposal to consolidate the dean’s position between the library and graduate students. The concept is an idea that came from Provost Katherine Frank. After the retirement of the dean of the library Patricia Cutright at the end of last year, there was the opportunity to restructure.

“When you think about the mission of the library and the mission of graduate studies and research there is a lot of what I call synergies because of the research element, the information element the learning element,” Frank said.

Professor Richard Mack was the dean for graduate studies and research for four years between 1999 and 2003. During a nine month period in 2002, he was also the dean of the library.

This meant that Mack was in a similar position to the one being considered. The only difference was that Mack, the dean of both the library and graduate studies, was interim while the university went through the process of hiring a new dean. In Mack’s office was also an associate dean and a director of research. According to Mack, it was more than a full time job for all of them.

“Obviously when you add what used to be a full time job to an existing full time job, without changing any of the underlying structure… it means some things have to be given up. It also requires expertise in two areas,” Mack said. “Namely one being the research and funding in graduate studies as one area… and then knowledge in library science which is a rapidly changing field.”

Mack’s job at the library was to keep the ship headed in the same direction. According to Mack, he spent a lot of time working in the library. This was a lot of time that he could have spent working with graduate studies was lost.

Erik Ekberg, the president of the Graduate Studies Association (GSA), believes in where the concept is coming from.

“I think the administration is right in the assumption that units on campus work very independently, and there is not a whole lot of cross collaboration that occurs between them,” Ekberg said.“One of our goals is to increase that kind of cross socialization and cross collaboration to generate ideas and make friends.”

However, Ekberg would still like more information on the budget analysis and wants to be sure that this collaboration would remain neutral in the future.

During a Jan. 17 meeting, former professor Walter “Spike” Arlt told faculty and the executive committee he believed that the consolidation gave too much power to too few people. He expressed his concerns.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people and I haven’t met one person who’s liked [the idea] yet,” Arlt said.

Arlt said another reason why he’s concerned with the consolidation is because the plan is not detailed enough.

“Change doesn’t come easy… and I think this really needs to be looked at,” Arlt said, pointing his fingers down on the three-page plan.

Edith Rojas, the vice president of Academic Affairs for student government, feels that there is a lot of mixed views. She is worried that from the outside, this collaboration could look like CWU is not focusing on their graduate student program.

Rojas said what she really needs is more student feedback. Because this is still a concept and not yet a proposal, student feedback is going to be the biggest factor on how the university moves forward.

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Proposal to consolidate dean positions met with criticism from faculty, former deans