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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

“The Dean Is ‘Dead.’ Long Live The Dean!”

Well, it finally happened. Last week, after nearly 3 years of malfeasance, mismanagement, and psychotic disregard for the well-being of the students, staff, and faculty in his charge, CPCS Dean Adenrele Awotona fell on his proverbial sword and “resigned” his position months before his contract was up to take a new job at one of those UMB research centers that no one ever hears about until some hack administrator, professor, or politician needs an academic soft-landing. One can only hope that bad karma follows this poor excuse for a human being to this new consolation gig, and wherever he lands after he inevitably loses it.

Adding sauce to this most delectable goose, Awotona was immediately replaced by much-respected Prof. Carroy “Cuf” Ferguson – a longtime leader of the democratic CPCS governance structure in exile. The CPCS community, myself included, is still rejoicing over this set of developments that were both unthinkable only a few days ago.

We may never know the exact circumstances of Awotona’s fall, but we know all we need to know for now. It come right on the heels of the recent (if still in progress) resignation of UMB Provost Paul Fonteyn, the figure the CPCS community blames for originally hiring Awotona – despite his apparent knowledge of the fact that Awotona was driven from his previous position as Dean of the School of Architecture at Southern University Baton Rouge in Louisiana, after nearly destroying that program in a similar fashion to what he has since done at CPCS.

More to the point, we know that Awotona’s gone, and that there’s a chance to rebuild one of the most innovative urban colleges that’s ever seen the light of day in these United States. It’ll take much work, and even more political maneuvering and fundraising, but there’s the straw of hope and we’re grabbing it for all it’s worth.

However, before the grabbing of straws there must come some reckoning and settling of accounts. To the few faculty and staff at CPCS who didn’t stand up against the Dean’s reign of error when we needed you, shame on you. To the many faculty and staff elsewhere in the university who not only didn’t stand up in solidarity with the CPCS community, but also openly mocked us as some kind of loser school that deserved everything we got … shame on you, too. To former Chancellor Michael Collins who aided and abetted the worst of the damage to CPCS during his blessedly short (and expensive) reign, it’s great to see the back of you. May you never darken UMB’s hallways again.

And to outgoing Provost Paul Fonteyn, who will doubtless continue making mischief and attempting to finish the destruction of CPCS before he leaves, you are the worst of the lot, and nothing can make up for what you’ve done. Before you get chewed up and spit out by the left-wing hippies of your new college in Vermont, I thought it would be worth correcting the tripe you saw fit to append to your official announcement of Awotona’s removal.

According to Fonteyn, “The campus is indebted to Dean Awotona for his many contributions during his tenure as CPCS dean. For example, he restructured the college to make it more efficient and productive, provided material support and encouragement to undergraduate researchers, created a more inclusive college budget process, supported the development of on-line courses, and expanded relationships with community partners.”

Yet in truth, Awotona did the exact opposite of every one of those things. One would have to be completely out of touch with reality – or else blue with rage at having one’s machinations undone – to baldly state them in an official announcement. Awotona made CPCS completely inefficient and unproductive, removed material support and encouragement to everyone at CPCS except his few cronies, wiped out the formerly inclusive and democratic CPCS budget process and replaced it with a complete opaque and autocratic budget process, tripped up the development of online courses, and ruined all existing relationships with CPCS community partners.

The only thing I might add is that I can hardly wait until the CPCS budget for the last couple of years finally goes public. I don’t think Awotona will be keeping his new UMB job very long after that.

In closing, let me mention a few of the things CPCS will need Chancellor Motley to put high on his agenda in the weeks to come if he is serious about the promises of help he has periodically proffered to members of our community since his return to UMB last year.

First, CPCS will need money and new faculty and staff lines to replace the ones taken away from us. Second, we will need to rebuild the shattered and abused CPCS administration, and I can think of no better way to do that than to return exiled CPCS Administrative Dean Sarah Bartlett to her rightful position, as her many talents are mostly wasted in the Bursar’s Office (sorry folks). Third, we will need the CPCS writing program and other important student support programs reinstated. Fourth, we will need UMB to formally invite back the couple of hundred students that CPCS has lost because of Awotona, and issue a public apology to them. Finally, let’s drop the Fonteyn-inspired nonsense about Cuf Ferguson being “interim administrator” of CPCS, and install him as the new CPCS Dean as soon as possible. It’s insulting to the man, and to our community, to do anything less.

We don’t yet know how much Chancellor Keith Motley had to do with Awotona’s removal, but the Chancellor should know that – if he did play a positive role in this situation – it restores some of the CPCS community’s faith that UMB could perhaps get back on track and maybe one day take its rightful place as a model urban public university.

Jason Pramas is a 2006 CPCS alumni and a doctoral student in Public Policy.