Dean of CPCS Resigns

Dean of CPCS Resigns

Ben Whelan

Adenrele Awotona, the embattled Dean of the College of Public and Community service, announced his resignation last Tuesday, April 8, to take the position of Director of the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters within the college.

This is no surprise to many as Dean Awotona has had conflicts with the faculty from the moment he assumed the position of Dean of the college following an extensive search in 2005. Most recently, the faculty council has twice submitted votes of no confidence in the Dean and have lodged numerous complains and documented many examples of how they feel the Dean was not fulfilling his duties.

The school has also recently seen a drop in enrollment, which many attribute to the Dean’s leadership, and there has also been talk of a consumer fraud lawsuit being filed by a group of students against the college.

This also comes on the heels of the resignation of Provost Paul Fonteyn, effective at the end of commencement, and the firing of former Executive Assistant to the Dean Terrence Flynn.

Cornell Professor Kenneth Reardon, a member of an external review committee that made recommendations to the college in 2005, sees this as a positive opportunity for a school that has seen a great deal of turmoil in recent years. “Given the protracted conflict [between Awotona and the faculty], his gracious decision to step aside will pave the way for the college to move forward with a national search for a new dean.”

Professor Reardon, who was also an applicant for the deanship at CPCS in 2005, also sees this as a possible turning point for the college. “There’s every reason to be hopeful that there will be a deep pool of applicants and the college will be able to find and recruit a new, inspired leader.”

Mel King, a legendary community activist and member of the 2005 review committee, echoed Reardon’s words in terms of this event being a chance for change rather than a step backwards. “I think this is an opportunity for faculty, students and administrators to come together and build a program that is a reflection of what the school was built to do.”

While almost all agree that this is a pivotal moment in the history of the college, some, like first year CPCS student and student Senator Jenna Alderton, are wary of the uncertainty on the horizon. “Somewhere in the mix of the Dean’s reign, the student experience and quality of education has gone AWOL and appears to be accepted campus-wide as status quo. While the Dean’s resignation offers fresh opportunity for change, things don’t feel safe or secure, and I’m apprehensive about the delivery of those changes. In an effort to move forward, my challenge to myself, as well as the university community, is to take an active role in the process of rebuilding CPCS as its own sustainable community, and to accept no less than supporting students who expect to be at the center of that effort.”

At this point the Mass Media is also looking into the relationship between Dean Awotona’s resignation and the resignation of Provost Paul Fonteyn a few weeks ago. It is publicly known that Fonteyn was one of the Awotona’s major supporters at the university, and the degree to which the removal of his support played a factor in Awotona’s decision is unknown. The Mass Media will continue ongoing coverage of this story in weeks to come.