Paul Voakes will be rejoining the faculty program at CU after his June 30, 2011 resignation.
“I’m stepping down in order to … rejoin the faculty of the journalism program here,” Voakes said. “The effective date is June 30th. So that means that I’ve still got the entire year of being dean, which is really important to me because we’re at such a critical stage in the life of the school.”
Voakes said he wanted to address the timing of this announcement in two different ways, one of which was his belief in routine changes in leadership.
“I knew that when it came time for new leadership for the school I wanted to stay here as a professor,” Voakes said.
And then along came discontinuance, he said.
“I thought, okay, there have been enough ancillary controversies about my leadership folded into the fundamental controversy of discontinuance of the journalism school that the best thing for the campus is for everybody to know at the same time that this particular dean is not going to be a part of the leadership equation in whatever planning is being done to move into the next entity that the school will become,” Voakes said.
He said there have been a few people outside the school who have been especially critical of his leadership, especially after discontinuance was announced.
He said he thought it would be far less complicating to remove himself from the academic planning.
“In the immediate context of what we’re going through this fall with the discontinuance review, I’m hoping I’ll be able to lend some clarity to the planning, but still be around next semester when the more detailed, difficult work of transition and planning is taking place so that I can provide that continuity for what we’ve started,” Voakes said.
Voakes said Provost Russell Moore will be seeking interim leadership.
“The provost will be looking for interim leadership for the SJMC between this summer and May of 2013,” Voakes said. “And then if the recommendation is to keep the SJMC open as is, then it’ll just be the normal process of [looking for a new dean].”
The provost has indicated he will seek Voakes’ council on a number of issues between now and June 30, Voakes said.
Voakes said faculty members seemed to understand what his motivations and goals are for resigning.
Associate Professor Mike McDevitt said that with program discontinuance he wasn’t surprised to hear the news of the dean’s resignation.
“Personally, I think it’s bad news because I think Paul has been an outstanding leader and has been a strength for the school and has made a lot of wise decisions despite being stabbed in the back by the Advisory Board,” McDevitt said.
The Advisory Board of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication sent a letter to Chancellor Phil DiStefano in April saying it supported the closing of the SJMC.
Doug Looney, a former member of the Advisory Board, said this is a great step forward for the school of journalism.
“If anything happened, I certainly stabbed him in his chest,” Looney said. “I didn’t go around behind anyone’s back. My defense would be that he’s been just horrid for the journalism school and all I can do is tell the truth.”
However, McDevitt said he doesn’t think the letter played a role in the dean’s resignation.
Students have said they are also surprised by the announcement. Kirstin Le Grice, a 21-year-old senior news editorial major, said she didn’t see it coming at all.
“I will be graduating anyways, but I don’t know if I would take any of his classes; I guess I would but it would be weird because I still don’t know why he’s stepping down,” Le Grice said.
Voakes said he would probably teach something similar to what he taught for 15 years before he became the dean.
“Those fall roughly into three categories,” Voakes said. “My first area is ethics, media ethics. And my second area is writing, reporting and editing. And my third area is media law.”
Voakes said what he is most looking forward to is modernizing his teaching abilities.
“What’s really exciting to me…is all of the new vistas for journalism and journalism education,” he said.
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Sheila V Kumar at Sheila.email@example.com.