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Graduate School of Political Management expands director search

In its second search for an executive director this year, the Graduate School of Political Management will broaden the search process to better represent stakeholders’ interests and allow for a more diverse candidate pool.

The expansion of the search comes after pleas for participation from faculty, alumni and students, who criticized College of Professional Studies Dean Kathleen Burke for ignoring their desire to provide input on the qualifications of the position and the future of the school.

While searching for a permanent replacement, the school has seen two temporary executive directors: first, associate dean Chuck Cushman and then Dennis Johnson, who is on leave as a Fulbright distinguished lecturer in China.

Cushman, a favorite among students and faculty, was overlooked for the executive director role during the first search. He announced in April that he will assume a new role at Georgetown University.

Forrest Maltzman, chair of the political science department and chair of the search committee, said a key difference will be the makeup of the committee in the second search for an executive director.

“Most importantly, we are going to make an effort to ensure that all of the GSPM stakeholders have an opportunity to participate in the search,” he said.

In a change from the first search, the committee will include an alumna of the school and two GSPM adjunct faculty members.

Adjuncts, who make up the majority of the school’s faculty, said they were shut out of the first search despite multiple attempts to voice their concerns through letters to top University administrators and Burke.

“It became clear during the first search that faculty who play a vital role in running the school felt their voices were being excluded,” Maltzman said. “It seemed like it was in the interest of both the school and the search to make sure this did not happen again.”

James Spellman, an adjunct professor of public relations, and Julius Hobson, an adjunct professor who teaches courses on lobbying and political management, will represent adjunct interests on the search committee.

Hobson was one of three professors elected by that adjunct faculty to coordinate their efforts to be more involved shortly after the second search was announced.

“Searches require significant commitments of time and effort, and I am pleased that we have had so much interest in participating,” Burke said.

Spellman declined to comment. Hobson did not return a request for comment.

Another criticism of the first search was the scheduling of public forums during times that were inconvenient for alumni and adjuncts, who often work professionally in the field of political management. Maltzman said the committee will “make an effort to schedule events where the candidates can meet with the part-time faculty.”

Burke has repetitively rebuked these criticisms, saying she believes the graduate school is one of the University’s flagship programs.

After Burke and Provost Steven Lerman dropped the requirement that candidates possess a Ph.D., Maltzman said he hopes the second search will include a wider variety of candidates.

“My goal is to get as many nominations as possible,” he said. “We’re going to be opening up some sort of way – whether it’s an e-mail address or a website I don’t know – where people can make nominations of people they think should be contacted or considered.”

A faculty member, who spoke on the condition on anonymity, said she hopes Burke and the search committee will make an effort to better include women and minorities in this search. All six of final candidates interviewed during the last search were white males.

“I hope [the search] will attract a more diverse pool of candidates,” Burke said in response.

The committee will receive assistance from an outside search firm, which both Burke and Maltzman declined to name. Maltzman said he is in discussion with a firm and anticipates finalizing a contract within the next few weeks.

Based on suggestions from their peers within the University and the alumni community, the committee will create a list of potential candidates, and the search firm will help reach out to the contenders and encourage them to apply.

“The directorship of GSPM is an incredible job,” Maltzman said. “It is an opportunity to both enhance a nationally-recognized program, and it provides a very important platform to discuss politics in America.”

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