Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

October 26, 1995

CGS dean needs strong vision, those at open forum agree

Vision was the theme or key word at the Oct. 19 open forum conducted by the search committee for a new dean for the College of General Studies (CGS).

Only a half-dozen people attended the forum and no one formally addressed the search committee, but, during the informal discussion that arose, the need to find someone with a strong vision to lead CGS was frequently mentioned.

It was generally felt by the individuals at the forum that CGS operates well on a day-to-day basis, but needs someone with a vision to lead the school in new directions, and to bring in and retain more students.

During the forum, search committee member Robert Comfort, who has been serving as interim dean of CGS since John Bolvin retired in February 1994, pointed out that a recent newsletter from the Community College of Allegheny County's (CCAC) South Campus reported that 176 students on that campus had transferred from Pitt. The main reason most of the students transferred was economic, according to Comfort. It costs less than $70 per credit to attend CCAC, compared to over $180 per credit at Pitt's CGS.

While there would be little a new CGS dean could do to change Pitt's tuition rate, it was felt that he or she might be able to lure and retain students with new programs that are unavailable elsewhere. It also was suggested that a new dean might want to explore offering certificate programs that fill a niche and serve people who need to show competency in a certain area in order to obtain a job or advance in a company. Search committee member Iain Campbell of the biological sciences seemed to sum up the feelings of those in attendance when he said: "Vision is the primary criteria. If we don't have vision, we have nothing." Pointing out that CGS has never had a dean from outside the Pitt system, Comfort said that the fresh perspective of someone from outside of the University community might be what CGS needs to help it move in different directions.

"I think we really need someone who is going to pick us up and get us going," Comfort noted.

Experience was another item that committee Chair Jack Daniel said the search committee must consider when reviewing applications. "We should be looking for someone who has done it and can do it," he said.

While acknowledging that the search committee has received numerous applications from qualified candidates from throughout the nation, committee member Kathleen DeWalt of the anthropology department said she is concerned that few candidates so far have expressed much of a vision for CGS.

DeWalt was somewhat relieved when it was noted that very few of the candidates had received detailed information on CGS before they submitted their applications. Other members of the search committee said they expect to learn more about each candidate's vision as the search continues.

Over 80 applications have been received for the dean position. Daniel said he would not be surprised if the search committee eventually receives over 100 applications.

Search committee members currently are reviewing the applications, attempting to reduce the number to about 20. The next meeting of the search committee is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. The probable starting date for the new dean is July 1, 1996.

Applications, nominations and written comments on the search can be sent to Daniel, 801 Cathedral of Learning.

–Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 28 Issue 5

Leave a Reply