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UI College of Education Dean resigns amid ‘crisis’

BY CASSIDY RILEY | DECEMBER 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa College of Education leadership is subject to dramatic changes in the near future.

On Monday, Dean Margaret Crocco presented her resignation to Provost P. Barry Butler. The resignation, she said, was in response to the controversy that has arisen over the past few weeks in the education school.

“Even at this late date, I remain perplexed about the reasons behind faculty resistance, since the senior faculty leading the opposition have been unwilling to step forward, identify themselves, and share openly the specific issues behind the conflict,” Crocco said in a statement on her resignation.

“Thus, in an effort to end the discord in the College of Education, I chose to resign and move on.”

Butler said he stands behind all that Crocco did while serving as dean and expressed his regret about her resignation in a statement.

“It is remarkable what she has been able to do during her short time as dean, especially in terms of raising public awareness about the College of Education, throughout Iowa and nationally,” he said.

“She is exceptionally smart, warm, and outgoing, and she is a strategic thinker. She has all the traits of a great leader. I was delighted when she agreed to take on this important role, and I am saddened to see her go.”

Stewart Ehly, a UI professor of psychological and quantitative foundations, said he was surprised to see Crocco resign.

“I can only imagine that she thought it was better to do it now than to let the process drag on,” he said. “I think she did what she thought was best for her and for the college.”

At a meeting hosted on Monday afternoon, Ehly said Butler emphasized the need to move forward from the current crisis.

“If you’re calling the events surrounding the dean a crisis, what [Butler’s] sort of suggesting is that it is over, and we should look forward and move on,” Ehly said.

Dakoda Flory, a student in the college, said he has been troubled by the current situation.

“It just seems like there’s no sense of direction inside the program,” he said. “I want to know what direction the program is going to go in. I want to make sure I’m taken care of in the College of Education.”

On the evening of Nov. 7, ballots for a vote of confidence/no confidence were distributed by an unknown group of senior faculty. Out of the 91 votes distributed, 65 were returned. There were 44 votes of no confidence, 16 votes of confidence, and five votes abstaining.

Weeks later, Crocco was also made aware of comments left on a survey intended to assess the work environment of the college. The comments critiqued her performance and leadership in the college.

Butler chose to treat these comments as he says he would any comments made about job performance by making them confidential, a move which inflamed the situation further.

The “crisis” in the college continued to grow when all seven members of the college’s Faculty Advisory Committee resigned on Dec. 7.

Butler said it will be a top priority of the interim dean to work to restore trust and confidence to the faculty and staff in the school following the controversy, and he said he hopes the interim dean will work with those members of the Faculty Advisory Committee who resigned.

“Dean Crocco worked hard over the last three to four weeks to reach out to faculty and staff,” he said. “She made every effort possible, and it just did not seem like it was going to be resolved.”

Despite his regret over the dean’s resignation, Butler said the school will not suffer. He is receving input from faculty and staff about who the interim dean should be, he said, and he will announce whom he will appoint at the end of the week.

“I am sure the college will attract an outstanding new dean and will continue on its trajectory of excellence,” he said in a statement.


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