Forum

Student Affairs needs permanent leader

Our still newly selected dean of student affairs, Karen Boyd, has resigned.

After her selection in an involved search that seemed to persist throughout all of last spring, her departure just six months later is shocking, saddening, and infuriating to the university community.

We could focus on asking harder questions, expecting more answers — better answers — from the administration on why we are again without a dean of student affairs, but we know that no answer is going to be acceptable. Her decision was made and accepted by our administration, with Michael Murphy now serving as interim dean for the remainder of the year.

What we ask is: What plan exists to find strong, consistent leadership for the Division of Student Affairs?

Over the past two years, we have had four deans, whether permanent or interim. It now seems likely that a fifth will start this fall. When that happens, he or she will have a whirlwind of predecessors to clean up after, each with a unique vision, different goals, and varied projects and promises that may have been abandoned, forgotten, overwritten, or ignored.

We do not mean to downplay the effort that Dick Tucker, Boyd, and Michael Murphy have put and continue to put into their work; however, the Division of Student Affairs seems to have become a revolving door of administrative entrances and exits over the past two years.

We have to question the long-term effects that the numerous changes in leadership will have. For example, the current class of juniors will not have had a dean of student affairs who lasted longer than a year during its entire tenure at Carnegie Mellon. What have these students lost?

The dean of student affairs must be a champion for the students, an innovator, a listener, a trusted source in the administration to be sure the student voice is heard.

There is a vacancy at the heart of this campus. So for now, this spring, we are again left to search for a dean of students who will be a true match for Carnegie Mellon, a dean who will start next fall with a new class of students and might just be present to see them graduate.