PCAL undergoing four leadership changes

Nicole Ares

There are four vacant leadership positions within the Potter College of Arts and Letters for the upcoming academic year due to recent resignations, retirements and term endings.

Larry Snyder, dean of PCAL since April, said to his knowledge, there has never been a change of a third of the department leadership at one time and in one year.

“This is pretty unprecedented to have this much change going on,” Snyder said. “There is no crisis here. This is for the most part, sort of expected.”

Snyder thinks these departmental leadership changes come at a good time with the university presidential search and internal developments in the PCAL.

“We are in the process of developing a five-year strategic plan for the college and we are in the beginning phases of that,” Snyder said. “This plan will be an attempt to guide our decision on staffing, research management, curriculum and facilities over the next three to five years.”

The vacant positions are director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, head of the department of political science, head of the history department and head of the department of folk studies and anthropology.

These positions are currently held by Loup Langton, Saundra Ardrey, Robert Dietle and Michael Williams, respectively.

Snyder says there is no “hard and fast” rule on how these positions will be filled. Generally, department head positions will be filled through an internal faculty search.

“Financial resources and budgetary concerns go into the decision,” Snyder said. “Also, stability of a program, availability of leadership from within, any number of factors playing into the decision.”

In the case of the departments of folk studies and anthropology, political science and history, an internal search is being conducted to fill those positions, Snyder said.

“We have candidates who have applied for those positions internally, and I expect that to resolve itself that way,” Snyder said.

When administrators step back to faculty positions, there is a corresponding drop in salary and the difference goes back into the budget, Snyder said.

“I do have that much money to work with,” he said. “Essentially, the money or salary increment for administration, if we do an internal search, will shift from one faculty member to the new department head.”

To fill the director of the SJB postion, an external or national search is planned and that process will begin in November, Snyder said.

The current director of the SJB, Loup Langton, was recruited through an external search from the University of Miami where he was previously the director of the visual journalism sequence.

“Often looking externally for a director position is the case, but it doesn’t have to be,” Snyder said. “But given the national reputation and ability of the school, it seemed to be entirely appropriate for us to find someone else to come in and continue to expand the programs.”

Snyder was not surprised with Langton’s resignation from director and said department leadership changes don’t have to be traumatic.

“In the case of Dr. Langton, he’s been here six years, that’s a long time to be a director and so transitions like this are just part of doing business,” Snyder said.

Since Langton is remaining on staff as a faculty member, additional money to hire a new director will have to be found within the budget.

“In the case finding new director externally, yes, I do have to come up with additional money to fund that position,” Snyder said. “That will be found through the allocation of resources through our record of staff and planned process.”

Still, Snyder sees this as an opportunity for the college and reiterated these are normal transitions.

“Department head changes provide an opportunity for individual departments to sort of sit back and think about who they are, what they want to be and what they need to do to get there,” Snyder said.

Reporter Nicole Ares can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].