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October 14, 2004

Daniel, Harrigan to Leave Student Affairs

Major changes at the top of the Division of Student Affairs are afoot.

Last week, both the head of the division and the associate dean announced they were stepping down from their respective positions.

Jack L. Daniel, who has served as vice provost for Undergraduate Studies and dean of students since September 2001, will give up that position effective Sept. 1, 2005.

Birney Harrigan, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of Student Life, will leave the University at the end of this month to pursue other career interests.

In an Oct. 4 e-mail message to Provost area staff, Provost James Maher announced Daniel’s decision. According to the message, which has been posted on the Provost’s web site, Daniel petitioned Maher to be relieved of the Student Affairs duties in order to pursue scholarly activity and other institutional priorities.

Daniel further persuaded the provost “that, while integrating academic affairs and student affairs continues to be vital to our ongoing efforts to optimize undergraduate education, those responsibilities are sufficiently weighty that it might be better to have two individuals working to fulfill them,” Maher wrote.

Maher had merged the responsibilities of the vice provost for Academic Affairs, then Daniel’s position, with those of the vice provost for Student Affairs, a position that was vacated following the resignation of Sharon Johnson in July 2001.


Maher named Robert Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources management, acting dean of students for July and August 2001; then Daniel, who had served as vice provost for Academic Affairs since 1992, assumed the additional title interim dean of students in September 2001. The interim was removed from Daniel’s title in November 2002 when Daniel was named vice provost for Undergraduate Studies and dean of students.

The provost’s goal for the move to combine the two vice provost positions was to provide better service to students and coordinate student and academic affairs more effectively, Maher wrote at the time of Daniel’s appointment.

Maher expects to name a committee to lead a national search for the position of vice provost and dean of students. Daniel will keep his current title until that position is filled, when he will become vice provost of Undergraduate Students, Maher stated.

Daniel told the University Times that he had wrestled with this decision for weeks prior to asking Maher to accept his change in responsibility. “This was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made, both personally and professionally,” he said last week.

“In fact, all the units within Students Affairs are in such good shape, in a way, I would love to take the job right now,” he said ironically.

While acknowledging the high turn-over and substantial re-assignment of personnel within the division under his tenure, Daniel said that the division is “largely stable right now, because we have fulfilled the mandate of the provost to integrate at every level academic and students affairs. These things are in place. When I took this job, I talked about the dawn of a new era, and we’ve entered that new era. Now we need leadership to go further, to get a higher level of excellence, to give it more purpose and distinction.”

Among the accomplishments Daniel cited as examples of establishing “academic and student affairs synergy” are:

* All Student Affairs units now have an academic advisory board.

* Staff in the Office of International Services have met with Pitt deans and offer seminars to academic units explaining OIS services. * The Pitt Pathway program staff now hold regular meetings with academic advisers.

* Through the Office of Residence Life and the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), Pitt has established an international living/learning community, “where the academic and intellectual content comes from UCIS,” Daniel said.

* The College of Business Administration and the schools of nursing engineering are taking steps to enhance and establish living/learning communities.

* Students now have access to, an on-line informational help-line with advice on such issues as alcohol and drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.

* Improvements in the William Pitt Union included continuing to move out non-student related, peripheral offices. “We asked: ‘Is what you’re doing primarily related to servicing the students in this co-curricular fashion?'” Daniel said. “The union had become this ad hoc collection of groups and it was not a true student union. We’ve reversed that.”

Among his institutional priorities for the future, Daniel said, is to continue focusing on undergraduate education, enrollment management and diversity.

“I’m also going to do more teaching, which I haven’t been able to do much of since I began in this position,” said Daniel, who holds an appointment as professor of communication. “In fact, I’m going to be teaching a course in African American communication this [coming] term.”

Daniel also has a full plate of scholarly endeavors planned, he said.

“My scholarship will focus on African American males who grew up without fathers in the home,” he said.


Daniel plans to build on the experience of writing a book with his son Omari titled “We Fish: The Journey to Fatherhood,” a 2003 University of Pittsburgh Press publication. “My son and I are writing a journal article in which we take the process of writing that book and use it as a model for developing a mentoring program,” Daniel explained. “The kind of bonding that takes place from writing that type of a book shows that developing literacy skill in young kids and building on that early communication, both written and spoken communication – those bonds of communication that come from the writing process can become the basis of a model mentoring program.”

Daniel said he plans a second book recounting his experiences at Pitt, again collaborating with his son. “I’ve got a full agenda,” he said.

Harrigan, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of Student Life, began working at Pitt as assistant to the provost in 1988, following earning her doctorate in anthropology here. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Pitt.

Harrigan was named associate dean of Student Affairs in 2001, shortly after Daniel took his position.

“I’ve worked in administration with Dr. Daniel for the past 16 years, and I thought it was time to pursue an interest I’m always had in leisure studies, which is related to my training in anthropology,” Harrigan said.

She told the University Times she plans to return to her native Virgin Islands to be a consultant in leisure studies.

“But I want to make it clear that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all my work here, especially working with students when I came to Student Affairs and more recently as director of Student Life. It has energized me.”

-Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 37 Issue 4

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