CASPER, Wyo. — Since Robert Sternberg took the helm of the University of Wyoming on July 1, five key leadership positions at the Laramie school have undergone change.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Myron Allen will begin a sabbatical Sept. 1 and move into a faculty position. Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Budgets Carol Frost is returning to a faculty position.
School of Energy Resources Director Mark Northam will soon report directly to the president. Montica Willmschen’s marketing director position will become an associate vice president position. College of Business Dean Brent Hathaway has resigned to become business school dean at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas.
Clif Forbes Conrad, a professor of higher education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, said leadership changes usually occur with a new president of a university. But the changes usually occur over several months.
“That’s pretty rapid change,” he said about UW. “It’s done sometimes. Usually it’s done rapidly when there’s some kind of crisis — a fiscal crisis or some name-calling of the president. ”
But Judith Ramaley, a former university president and senior scholar in institutional change with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which aims to increase the importance of liberal arts education, said university presidents are under increased pressure these days and changes are sometimes necessary.
Sternberg said in an interview with the Casper Star-Tribune that the changes can be explained if each one is considered individually.
“I’m not changing positions for the sake of changing positions,” he said.
Sternberg said that Allen, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, chose to step down. Allen did not return email and telephone messages from the Star-Tribune.
The provost is the second in command at UW, university spokesman Chad Baldwin said.
“It’s very common in universities when there’s a new president for the provost to think about whether this is a good time to step down,” Sternberg said.
Sternberg said he would have kept Allen on if he had wanted to stay longer.
Frost, the associate provost, also did not return an email message from the Star-Tribune about why she is returning to a faculty position.
Sternberg said he learned of Frost’s returning to research and teaching in a letter she sent him.
“What often happens is when the provost steps down, the associate provost decides it’s a good time” to return to research and teaching, he said.
Conrad, the professor from the University of Wisconsin, said that his university has a new president but the provost is going “to stay on for another year, at least,” he said. “There are a lot of different configurations.”
Sternberg will look for replacements for Allen and Frost. He named Richard McGinity, UW’s Bill Daniels Chair of Business Ethics, as interim vice president for academic affairs because McGinity’s interest in educating students who become ethical leaders mirrors Sternberg’s interest, Sternberg said.
McGinity will probably serve in the position for a year and does not plan to be a candidate for the permanent position, Sternberg said.
Colin Keeney, chairman of the UW Faculty Senate, said he hasn’t heard of any reaction to the leadership changes since many faculty members often work off-campus in the summer.
“I don’t know if that’s because people have no reaction or because things haven’t fired up yet,” he said.