Posts Tagged ‘college restructuring’
After reluctantly resigning from his position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) shortly before the start of last semester, professor Jim Stellar is now leaving the university.
“I was not planning to step down, and anyone that knew me and what I was going to do knew that,” he told The News yesterday.
Stellar will join the staff of Queens College in New York as provost and vice president for academic affairs beginning’ in the fall semester, according to a’ Queens College press release issued yesterday following his formal resignation from Northeastern.
“After I stopped being dean, I discovered that I really liked academic administration, and that’s why I began the search,” Stellar said. “I’m a very lucky man, and I got what I thought was the more exciting job for me.”
Stellar’s resignation as dean was partially because of conflicts with newly-appointed Provost Stephen Director, said journalism professor Nick Daniloff, a friend and longtime colleague of Stellar.
“There were differences between Provost Stephen Director and Stellar,” Daniloff said. “Apparently, the provost felt he couldn’t work effectively with Dean Stellar, so essentially he asked him to resign’ his position.”
This clash occurred because the two had different ways of operating, Daniloff said.
“What I can say about Stellar is he was very enthusiastic and very open,” Daniloff said. “All I can really say is that the two of them had different management styles. Stellar’s was one of enthusiasm and it seems to me Provost Director is a more restrained individual.”
Some students said they did not know what was happening at the time, and still feel in the dark about the issue ‘-’ even those who worked with him in the on-campus neuroscience lab.
“None of us are clear as to why he was asked to step down, aside from politics,” said junior behavioral neuroscience major Natalia Diaz. “I would’ve appreciated a straight answer from the president as well as the provost as to what the circumstances were, because it was unfair. Stellar did such an amazing job as dean and a researcher. He deserved a lot more.”
Very few people knew the details of what was happening, said George Gottschalk, a student who considers Stellar a good friend.
“Jim kept me informed throughout the entire ordeal, but insisted I keep the information to myself,” he said. “He still remains admirably dignified despite the atrocity of his dismissal.”
Because of his acclaimed style and his long history at the university, Daniloff said Queens College will benefit from Stellar’s experience.
“He was very lucky to get the position of provost at Queens College, and I must say it’s our loss and their gain,” Daniloff said. “I’m sad to see that he’s leaving, but it looks like he’s making an important new step in his career.”
Students also believe the new position is good for Stellar, Diaz said.
“I was actually happy for him,” she said. “I hope Queens College is able to appreciate him the way he should’ve been at Northeastern.”
Stellar also said he was hopeful for success in his career at Queens College, and said he appreciates parallels between the school and Northeastern.
“I’m really excited because in Queens, I see a lot of the same elements that I do at Northeastern,” Stellar said. “It’s big, it’s urban, and Queens has a prominent role in the borough and the area.”
His departure may be more dismal for others, and some said they consider it one of the worst mistakes Northeastern officials have recently made.
“I would call it the worst thing that’s happened to Northeastern since I’ve been here,” Gottschalk said. “He is a brilliant man that completely understood what sets Northeastern apart from every other school out there and he was truly dedicated to involving the students in his decision making process.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the new position, Stellar said he is disheartened about leaving Northeastern.
“All of this is sad, but on the other hand, I had to leave to pursue what I want to do,” he said. “The way I explain it is, I’m graduating with you and that’s the way I’m looking at it. It feels like that, and I’ve left places before and still cared about them. Any senior can relate to this feeling.”
Through the reactions of Stellar’s students and colleagues, he said he took the responses to heart and they affirmed that he accomplished a lot here.
“I’ve tried to focus on the team, and I’m taking it as a confirmation that we built a team here,” he said. “And I’m going to try and do that again as provost at Queens College.”
After being left out of the process since January, alumni were included last night in the discussion regarding the College Structure Initiative, which would possibly merge the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the College of Criminal Justice. The four alumni that could attend on the short notice said they were outraged.
Some alumni and students said they did not receive notification of the meeting until later than they felt appropriate, with the e-mail to alumni arriving around 3 p.m. on Friday.
“I was one of the lucky ones that actually got the e-mail,” said Maureen Neltin, a 1978 graduate of the College of Criminal Justice. “I’m disturbed by this and the fact they only gave three business days [notice].”
Some students said they did not receive the e-mail, including junior criminal justice major Karin Pipczynski.
“I only knew about the meeting because I got an e-mail from my adviser; I don’t know how they contacted people,” she said. “They said they contacted some alumni, but one or two of the four alumni there were told by different sources.”
The meeting was hosted by the College Structure Initiative Chair and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Mary Loeffelholz, the only faculty committee member in attendance. By having 45 people voice their concerns to one person, Pipczynski said she felt as though the university didn’t want to listen to what was said.
“I’m disheartened at the fact that they are supposed to be there for the students, but the administration isn’t,” she said. “The way she made us feel was that anything we said was just an argument, and she wasn’t passionate or concerned with our feelings or beliefs.”
Nelting said she felt a negative tone from administration regarding the meeting as well, even before she arrived.
“My opinion from reading the e-mail and website is that this is a done deal,” she said. “I may be wrong, but that’s the sense I get.”
Because of coordination issues with the meetings, Pipczynski said she feels as though the university isn’t including students in the process and is trying to keep the changes a secret.
“My biggest concern is the fact the committee isn’t transparent at all,” she said. “Incoming freshmen don’t even know about this.”
If Criminal Justice is merged into CAS, Nelting said she’d be outraged, and would stop donating to the university.
“I owe my career to this college,” she said of her 38-year history of working for the federal government. “[But] I think the stature of the program would be lessened and we’d just be swallowed by a bigger college, and for what reason? I didn’t even really get that answer tonight.”
Despite Nelting’s concerns, a letter posted online by the College of Criminal Justice’s Interim Dean Chester Britt said the academics would not be affected.
“If CJ is moved into another college, it will primarily be an administrative/organizational move within the broader university,” he said in the letter. “Criminal Justice will retain its identity and the CJ faculty will continue to provide an outstanding education.”
However, Pipczynski said she feels that without the College of Criminal Justice on her diploma, it will lose its value.
“I appreciate and value the fact that my degree is known for the College of Criminal Justice and it’s know as its own college and that other alumni and people in my field recognize it,” she said.
Along with her degree, Pipczynski said she feels that the entire program will lose it’s growing reputation in the criminal justice field.
“No matter what anyone says, it’s going to lose its reputation completely along with future students and alumni power because they’re completely going against the feelings we have,” she said. “No one’s going to want to return or have to do with Northeastern because we feel betrayed.”
Loeffelholz declined to comment to The News.