HFAC Dean returns to teaching Aug. 31

Pipken joins pool of 5 other deans to leave to office since summer

by James V. Geluso and Robert Schoenberger

Daily Cougar Senior Staff

James Pipkin brings the number of deans to leave office since summer 1995 to six.

Pipkin, dean of the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communications, announced Thursday he would not seek reappointment to his office when his term expires Aug. 31.

Pipkin said after six years as dean, he was ready to return to teaching. "I've been on the faculty at (the University of Houston) for 22 years. For 17 of those years, I've had a major administrative role. I'd like to rack up a few years on the other side of the ledger."

Pipkin's replacement will join a growing list of new deans. Roger Eichhorn , dean of the College of Engineering, submitted his resignation over the semester break effective at the end of this semester; Architecture Dean Robert Timme resigned Aug. 29; Karen Hayes left her position in the Graduate School of Social Work to become president of UH-Clear Lake over the summer; John Ivancevich left the College of Business Administration to become UH provost; and Raymond Nimmer left his post as the interim dean of the Law Center.

Pipkin became the interim dean of HFAC in 1991 when James Pickering left the position to become provost. Pickering, as UH president, appointed Pipkin as full dean in 1993.

No statements have been made by the university as to who will replace Pipkin or how that person will be chosen, but some faculty are curious.

"I think we're all eager to find out who the next dean will be," said Cynthia Freeland, an associate dean in HFAC. She also questioned whether the replacement would come from a national search.

Upon his resignation, Timme also expressed the need for deans to be chosen through national search programs.

"It's just a very tough time to be a dean," said Harrell Rodgers, member of the Coalition of Excellence and a professor of political science. "The budget battles are endless, and it's just not very fun right now."

At the time of his appointment, Pipkin said he wanted to increase awareness of achievements by the university and HFAC, but teaching was still HFAC's most important function.

"The beginning and the end to everything (at UH) is the commitment to the student," Pipkin said in 1993. He added, "UH is better known to various parts of the country than to the city of Houston. We are working to bring the city in touch with UH."

Some administration and faculty members said they felt he achieved some of his initial goals.

"Dr. Pipkin has, through the years, become a very good dean," said Maria Gonzalez, a Faculty Senate representative from HFAC and an assistant professor in the English Department. "It's too bad he's leaving."

Gonzalez noted Pipkin's support of junior faculty and especially the Women's Studies Program. "He started that program, and it's one of the most successful programs at the university," he said.

Ivancevich said, "I enjoyed working with Dr. Pipkin on the Deans' Council and in my capacity as provost.

"Dr. Pipkin has done an outstanding job in working to improve every aspect of his college and the entire UH community." Pipkin's letter listed other accomplishments of the college, most of them economic:

*HFAC is the only college not to run at a significant deficit.

*Under Ivancevich's current budget model, HFAC would deserve a $3 million funding increase over the next two years.

*Through the Creative Partnerships Campaign, HFAC received $32 million, more than double other colleges.

"HFAC has been very successful according to the budget models," Pipkin said. "That is an accomplishment not of the dean, but of the chairs and faculty."

Pipkin said he looks forward to his free time to do some reading, thinking and writing. Most importantly, he said, he looks forward to returning to teaching.

"Despite all the current metaphors used to describe higher education, a university is neither a mini-corporation nor a mystery," Pipkin said in his letter. "It is, quite simply, the classroom, the studio, the laboratory and the office where students and faculty, with the support of the staff, engage in a series of stimulating conversations."

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