Dean of CLASS gives resignation
By Ken Fountain
Senior Staff Writer
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Dean W. Andrew Achenbaum, who in 2000 presided over the merger of the former
Humanities and Fine Arts and the College
of Social Sciences, announced his resignation, effective June 30, in a
specially called meeting of
the college's faculty Tuesday.
Kevin Harwerth/The Daily
College of Liberal Arts and
Social Sciences Dean Andrew Achenbaum announces his resignation during
a specially called CLASS faculty
Economics Department Chair John Antel
will become interim dean for an indefinite period beginning July 1, UH
Provost Edward Sheridan
said. Antel will not be precluded from
consideration for the permanent position, he added.
Evoking the memory of Roy Hugh Cullen in
his remarks in the filled-to-capacity Kiva Room of Farish Hall, Achenbaum
lauded the University
for fulfilling the early UH benefactor's
dream of creating a university for the children of Houston's working population,
and for its current
ethnically diverse student body.
"I am particularly proud that our college
has done so much over the past several years to become more student-friendly,
as well as to refine
and improve the undergraduate curriculum,"
Citing the hard work of faculty, staff
and students to "successfully launch the college," Achenbaum said, "I believe
the time has come for new
leadership if we are to achieve the next
level of excellence."
"I intend to step down, but I do not intend
to drop out. I look forward to joining the faculty, and continuing to work
with all of you to achieve Roy
Cullen's dream," he said to the applause
of the assembly.
UH Provost Edward Sheridan said he was
"very saddened" by Achenbaum's decision to step down, but that he understood
desire to devote more time to teaching.
Sheridan said a search for a permanent
dean would not begin right away, but might be under way by early Fall 2002.
"A lot of very good things have happened
in this college in the last couple of years, and it's very important that
we not lose that momentum,
and that we make a very thoughtful decision
before we move forward," he said.
Sheridan said that Achenbaum and Antel
will work closely together during the transition period.
He praised Antel, a member of the Faculty
Senate, for taking an active interest in the University's budget process
and learning about the
University-wide PeopleSoft financial and
human relations software system.
Achenbaum, a nationally prominent gerontologist
who has served on the White House Conference on Aging, was a history professor
senior research scientist at the University
of Michigan's Institute of Gerontology when he was named dean of the former
HFAC in May 1999.
Within less than a year, he was tasked
with managing the merger of the two former colleges, which was seen as
a cost-saving and
streamlining measure by the UH administration
and the UH System Board of Regents.
The newly created CLASS became the University's,
and the nation's, largest college.
Many faculty members from both former colleges
voiced concerns about the merger, and the gregarious Achenbaum was said
by some to
have a somewhat authoritarian style in
his dealings with departments, while still making fair decisions.
Some discord within the college was evident
at Tuesday's meeting, as faculty members grilled Sheridan on whether the
college bylaws on
which they voted last year are in fact
recognized by the University administration.
Of particular concern to some were the
authority of departmental chairs and "shared governance," the process by
which faculty members
take a hand in departmental decision-making,
including the selection of chairs.
After the meeting ended, Antel told The
Daily Cougar that his immediate goals as interim dean are to achieve continuity
in the transition, and
to examine ways changes in technology
and managerial changes affect the college, the University and higher education