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May 12, 2005

GSPIA’s Ban to step down

When Carolyn Ban steps down as dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) next year, she will have spent just enough time in her post — almost a decade.

Even before Ban was interviewed for the GSPIA post, she was advised not to be a dean too long.

The late Tom Galvin, a colleague from her years at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Albany and former dean of Pitt’s information sciences school, advised Ban about being a successful dean: “If you haven’t ‘done it’ in five to seven years, you are probably not going to ‘do it,’ and you should step aside and let someone else try.”

Ban didn’t stray far from Galvin’s advice: “When the provost reviewed my performance at five years and asked me to stay on as dean, I told him that another five years would be the maximum, and I reaffirmed that decision with him last fall.” She will step down Aug. 1, 2006, but will remain on the GSPIA faculty.

According to Provost James Maher, Ban “has made significant progress in strengthening the school’s faculty profile and research portfolio, aligning its curricula to faculty expertise, and building new programs of high quality.”

Under Ban’s leadership, a new major in Urban and Regional Affairs and a new master’s degree program in international development were established. The Ridgway Center for International Security Studies was expanded when GSPIA received support from the University to establish the Wesley W. Posvar Chair in International Security Studies, which is held by center director William Keller. Ban proudly points out that GSPIA hired Keller, “a dynamic senior faculty member,” away from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Also established during Ban’s tenure was the Ford Institute for Human Security, the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, the GSPIA Nonprofit Clinic and the Graduate Center for Public Policy and Management in Macedonia. Ban plans to attend the first-ever graduation ceremony at the Macedonia school on May 28.

According to Maher, under Ban’s leadership “GSPIA has developed depth and breadth in its international connections, increased its enrollments, maintained its commitment to diversity and the education of international students, and positioned itself as a leader in the use of technology in the classroom and in the inclusion of students in the work of major research projects. Dr. Ban has worked tirelessly to triple the school’s endowment.”

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said: “Dean Ban’s distinguished service has been characterized by her high ambition, sense of vision, boundless energy and effective management style.”

According to Ban, her most notable accomplishments include hiring almost half of the current 34 faculty. “I consider that one of the most important things I do is to mentor and encourage faculty to develop. As dean, I leave a strong and engaged faculty.”

Ban also is proud of the school’s success in generating external funds for research and training. During her first year, the school brought in less than $100,000. Now GSPIA receives about $2 million in external funding annually.

And as dean, Ban enjoyed meeting and spending time with alumni around the world.

“One of the things you do with teaching is that you change the world second hand. You give people the tools and they take them out and use them.

Sometimes you don’t know what they did with the tools until later. And when I met with alumni, I got a sense of what they accomplished.”

Ban said that what sets GSPIA apart from other schools of public policy is that Pitt has the fields of public policy, international affairs and international development combined in one school, which is unusual among institutions of higher education nationwide. “Our focus now and for the future is building on that integration and responding to the current environment,” she said.

The school’s latest faculty hires exemplify that focus: One faculty member has expertise in environmental policy on a regional basis while the other faculty member, who also specializes in environmental policy, has an international focus. “Both of those faculty members will connect across the school. And we have the potential to build a strong program in environmental policy, an area of potential growth,” she said.

Ban has served as a member of the Executive Council of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) since 1997, serving as president in 2001-2002. She is a member of the American Society for Public Administration, and has served in a number of leadership roles, including chair of the section on personnel and labor relations and the national finance committee, as well as on the board of the section on women in public administration.

Ban earned a B.A. in political science at Smith College, graduating cum laude; an M.A. in regional studies of the Soviet Union at Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in political science at Stanford University.

Ban began her career as an assistant professor of political science at Ohio State University. She then worked as policy analyst and acting division chief for the Civil Service Reform Act Evaluation Management Division of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and as a senior research analyst for Educational Systems Corp. before returning to academia, attaining the rank of professor in the Graduate School of Public Affairs at SUNY-Albany. Ban also has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.

A search committee will be formed this summer to identify candidates for the dean’s position.

—Mary Ann Thomas

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