UA Transformation Guide

Note: This guide is in its beginning stages and is a work-in-progress. The first section is titled “Staff on the Move,” but there will be accompanying sections focused on following the money, college mergers and helpful links for those left lost by the bureaucracy of the infinitely complicated and hidden aspects of the University of Arizona Transformation Process.

Staff on the Move, Part 1 – The College of Humanities and the College of Fine Arts 

Being as the main purpose of this site is to keep up with the highly complicated and mystery-shrouded news of the University of Arizona Transformation Process, we, for quite some time now, have felt it prudent to create a guide, which would both appear in some posts and would be accessible through a tab on this website’s front page.

Well, part of such a guide is before you, and while it is nowhere near complete (Can divulging sensitive info about the Transformation ever truly be complete?), it involves some serious information that has been published nowhere and has been accumulated through secret phone calls, reliable anonymous sources and reading between the lines of press releases and media puff pieces.

Truth be told, I started this back in my Daily Wildcat days, but this info is far too speculative with nearly no one willing to go on the record to be included in the UA student newspaper…so naturally, it belongs here on this blog!

This guide focuses on people on the move within the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Although it is only one college (well, actually it’s several colleges pulled into one mega college), what goes on within the “walls” of CLAS (as the hip faculty call it) seems to be highly indicative of the frustration and anger that members of the faculty have been feeling with President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay.

Again, please note that this is not written in stone, although several members of the faculty, including regents professors and a few deans, have told me anonymously (They’re anonymous to you; I know who they are) the following information, which is at the same time both highly sensitive and, at some points, confirmation of what many within the UA community and media have already suspected. Enjoy.

Below: Staff on the Move, Part 1 – Humanities and Fine Arts

Still to come: Staff on the Move, Part 2 – Social and Behavioral Sciences

College of Humanities

Person of Interest: Mary Wildner-Bassett

Previous Position: Interim Dean, College of Humanities

Current Position: Dean, College of Humanities

Background: Originally brought in as interim dean about a year before the creation of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Wildner-Bassett was allegedly threatened with her job if she did not play ball with the UA in the creation of the new College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The UA administration framed her as the right person moving forward to bring the Humanities side of CLAS to where Shelton and Hay want it.

Unanswered questions: Was she really threatened? How did she “play ball” with the administration? Was that why she wasn’t pushed out, escaping the fate of her fallen colleagues?

College of Fine Arts

Person of Interest: Maurice J. Sevigny

Previous Position: Dean, College of Fine Arts

Current Position: Unknown, most likely outside of the university

Background: Following the official creation of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Sevigny seemed on-board with the plan, according to quotes attributed to him in a UA News press release. Just a few short months later, in May, the new interim dean of Fine Arts was announced, with no accompanying announcement about Sevigny leaving. A press release about the new dean then mentioned Sevigny’s departure in passing, saying he resigned from his position as dean but mentions nothing about his professor position. According to sources, though, “Sevigny was pushed out.” P.S., the press release mentioned above is no longer attainable either on the UA News website or the university’s official website. If you do find it, though, feel free to leave a comment with the link.

Shelton and Hay wanted new Letters, Arts and Sciences leadership across the board. Sevigny’s professor position is no longer online on the Fine Arts website. His name still mistakenly appears in the UA Phonebook under Fine Arts administration and as a professor. The number listed next to his name in the UA Phonebook is the Fine Arts dean’s office, leading to the probability that the phonebook’s information is simply outdated, that Sevigny is indeed gone.

Considering Hay told UANews that she appreciated “Sevigny’s many years of service to the university,” (Funny, she said literally the exact same thing verbatim about ex-SBS Dean Ed Donnerstein) it seems Sevigny no longer works for the UA. Messages left at his home number have gone unanswered and unreturned.

Unanswered questions: Did Sevigny resign, or was he fired? Why did he at first seem on board with the new mega college, but soon after no longer held the dean’s position? What does Sevigny currently do? If he is no longer with the university, whyd didn’t he just fall back to a professor role like other dismissed deans have?

Person of Interest: Jory Hancock

Previous Positions: Director, School of Dance; Interim Dean, College of Fine Arts (after Sevigny’s departure)

Current Position: Dean, College of Fine Arts

Background: Hancock is widely regarded as the individual who helped launch the Steve Eller Dance Theatre into recognizable status. Besides being the director of the School of Dance, Hancock also holds the title as the Steve Eller Endowed Chair—kind of like faculty chair, but for the School of Dance, I’m told. Hancock took over as interim dean following the resignation/firing of Maurice Sevigny. Hancock was recently announced as the new permanent dean of the college (add link).

Unanswered questions: Was Hancock willing to play ball with Shelton and Hay while Sevigny wasn’t? Is Hancock worried about the ramifications of including a strong stand-alone college like Fine Arts into a mega college where it may not receive as much individual recognition? Does Hancock know what happened to Sevigny?

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will focus on the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. It is quite juicy, and much more complex with more key players involved.

Staff on the Move, Part 2 – The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Note: Apologies for the lack of links, as much of this information is not link-able due to its emergence from interviews I have had with various CLAS personnel, and press releases that inexplicably no longer appear either on the UA News website or the UA website.

Person of Interest: Ed Donnerstein

Previous Position: Dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Current Position: Communications professor (on sabbatical)

Background: SBS dean since 2002, Donnnerstein resigned as dean on July 1, announcing he would take on his old job as a communications professor. At the same time, Donnerstein told the media he was going to take a year-long sabbatical, although he would not specify why he was taking a sabbatical or why he was resigning as the college’s dean. Curiously, the UA Department of Communications staff members and faculty could neither confirm nor deny to me whether Donnerstein was actually technically still employed at the university anymore. Hmmm.

Unanswered questions: Why did Donnerstein resign as dean? Was he pushed out (as a department head in CLAS told me), or was he fed up with the direction the UA Transformation was going (as another source insinuated)? Is he still on sabbatical—why or why not?

Person of Interest: John Olsen

Position: Regents professor and former head of the anthropology department

Background: Following Donnerstein’s resignation, Olsen was approached about serving as the new interim dean of SBS. However, Olsen turned the position down and remains a regents professor.

Unanswered questions: Why did Olsen turn the position down?

Person of Interest: Chris Segrin

Position: Communications Department Head

Background: After Donnerstein resigned from his position as SBS dean, Segrin openly voiced that SBS was losing a valuable voice of experience in the administration office of SBS. Now acting as Donnerstein’s superior, and apparently also his admirer, Segrin has since been tight-lipped about his knowledge of Donnerstein’s situation, also he did insinuate he holds some contempt for President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay.

Unanwered questions: What’s Segrin’s inside knowledge of the musical chairs of deans within the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, including Donnerstein’s resignation?

Person of Interest: Beth Mitchneck

Previous position: SBS interim dean (following Donnerstein’s resignation); SBS associate dean of academic affairs and geography/regional development professor

Current position: SBS associate dean of academic affairs and geography/regional development professor (presumably)

Background: Mitchneck accepted the interim SBS dean position three days before Donnerstein resigned. Mitchneck, like Humanities Dean Mary Wildner-Bassett, was introduced as the right person to lead SBS and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences into the future. However, she was replaced by John Paul Jones III after less than six months in office.

The party line may be that Mitchneck was only meant to be an interim and not a permanent dean. That’s not what some SBS personnel are saying, though. You be the judge. Also, there’s supposedly some kind of buddy-buddy past between CLAS Czar Juaquin Ruiz and Mitchneck. Was that why she was picked as the interim dean? Why didn’t Ruiz then keep her as the permanent dean? Was it even his call?

Dean Disagreements

 According to a reliable source within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the staff unanimously voted to replace Donnerstein permanently with SBS Associate Dean for Instruction James Shockey, but instead, the powers that be (whether that be in this instance Shelton, Hay or Ruiz) chose to go against faculty and staff and choose Mitchneck as the interim dean and Jones as the permanent dean, even though Shockey had the backing of the SBS staff and Jones is coming from outside of the circle.

4 responses to “UA Transformation Guide

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