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January 19, 1995

Bobrow asked to resign as dean of GSPIA

Davis Bobrow resigned Jan. 6 as dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) under pressure from Provost James Maher.

Maher said he asked Bobrow to resign because the dean's management style and philosophy conflicted with his own, but Maher would not elaborate. "Because this is a personnel matter," Maher said, "I don't want to comment beyond what I said in my memo to the University community and what the chancellor wrote about this in his (University Times) column this week." (See page 2.) Both Maher, in his Jan. 6 memorandum to the University community announcing Bo-brow's resignation, and Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor, in his Times column, praised GSPIA's accomplishments and potential. They said the central administration will work closely with GSPIA to make the school even better.

Bobrow, who will remain as a tenured professor, said: "My differences with the provost involved my handling of the dual roles of being an advocate for GSPIA and being part of the University's management team. My impression is that he (Maher) believes I pushed too hard" for more resources and a higher priority for GSPIA within the University.

In a Jan. 6 letter to Bobrow, the provost wrote, "I have lost confidence in you as dean." Bobrow complied with Maher's request that he submit a written resignation by the end of that day, effective immediately.

Maher appointed Edison Montgomery as short-term interim dean. Montgomery has held various administrative jobs at Pitt since the 1950s, including a previous stint as GSPIA interim dean in the mid-1980s.

"Monty has agreed to serve for two months," Maher said. "He will lead the school through the current phase of the planning process," during which Pitt schools are writing detailed plans for meeting goals outlined in the University's October 1994 "Toward the 21st Century" plan.

Maher said he will consult with GSPIA faculty on the choice of a longer-term interim dean. A search committee for Bobrow's permanent successor will be formed in early summer, the provost said. "Probably, summer 1996 is the earliest realistic point at which we'll be able to hire a new permanent dean," Maher said.

Bobrow said he has "serious concerns" about GSPIA's future, partly because of the delay in forming a dean search committee. "I see no obstacle to starting the search immediately," Bobrow said. "If that doesn't happen, it's hard to see how that gives the school a level playing field in the strategic planning process. It's hard for me to see the advantage of completing the plan without input from the new dean." Maher fielded questions during a Jan. 11 closed-door meeting of GSPIA faculty and invited staff. Professors interviewed by the University Times described the meeting as frank and productive but said they are taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding the central administration's pledges to support the school.

The provost said he tried to reassure GSPIA personnel that Bobrow's dismissal doesn't mean the school has fallen out of favor with Pitt senior administrators. "I think the school has some very good people in it, and I think it has a significant role to play in the future of applied social science here at Pitt," Maher said.

With 475 students, GSPIA is 11th in size among Pitt's 16 schools. Its enrollment has been climbing in recent years.

Bobrow, 58, had been GSPIA dean since July 1988.

— Bruce Steele

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