Breaking News in the College of LAS

The Dissenters were made aware yesterday that Michael Zimmerman, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been relieved of his administrative duties. The decision was made public at a meeting yesterday which was supposed to be part of Zimmerman's three year review (a process that Butler administrators undergo to evaluate their performance).

Faculty sources from LAS indicated that, overall, Zimmerman's review (which is in part completed by faculty members) was positive. Following what was described as a series of tense exchanges between Zimmerman and Provost Jaime Comstock regarding the review and Zimmerman's release of the document to the LAS faculty, Comstock ended the meeting, saying that, "it is time for LAS to have a new dean."

Zimmerman's popularity was not necessarily a unanimous sentiment for the LAS faculty, but from what I understand (and my own interactions with the dean) he made positive strides for the college and brought national attention to the university in his short time as dean.

This move came as a shock to many faculty members, although there were rumors that Zimmerman was looking for another job earlier in the semester. But, from what I understand there were no recommendations for Zimmerman's dismissal within his three year review.

As of now, Zimmerman will still work at Butler as a professor of Biology (a field in which he has his PhD). However, due to the tense exchange with Comstock during the meeting and the public release of his review to LAS faculty (an announcement which baffled Comstock during the meeting) there are questions about the stability of his position as professor.

The impact for students is immediate. Not only have LAS students lost an administrator who worked hard for the liberal arts, but now time, money and precious faculty energy will have to be poured into an arduous search process for a new dean. This is a process that students should work to be involved in. In addition, this situation once again shows that despite one's accomplishments and positive peer review, administrative positions at this university are vacated at the whims of upper level administrators.

This is something that will weigh heavily on the minds of many faculty throughout the summer and something that should cause students to be concerned about the stability and quality of their academic pursuits at Butler. We will bring updates as we get them, especially as the search process begins. Do not let the summer become the season of forgetting.



  1. Wow. Simply wow. Right before graduation. Seniors, got anything planned?

  2. I am baffled, but not surprised as I don't find it coincidence of the relation to Gullickson's "resignation" and Jess Zimmerman's invasion of privacy. Let the letter writing begin. Those still on campus/in the Indy region planning anything?

  3. Wow... shocking first thing to read in the morning. I really can't believe it. First of all, thanks for making us aware.

    I know you are probably still gathering information, but if you can find out more about why the review was circulated among faculty, I think that is important to understanding this situation.

    I love that this blog is making people aware of these issues, but I think the next step we need to take is deciding how to take action and show that we are upset with the way the administration is running OUR university. I have been told in the past that complaints from parents and alumni are most effective as they are the university's source of money.

    Have you guys thought about using the blog to coordinate a letter writing campaign or anything like that? As much as BU tries to act like all of our parents and alumni are strict conservatives with no compassion, I know that's not true, and there are many who would be very angry to hear that their tuition or donation dollars are supporting decisions like this. A possible next step for Butler Underground readers...

  4. Intirim dean nominations

    Margaret Brabant (accepted)

    Hilene Flanzbaum (declined)

    Paul Hansen (declined)

    Terri Jett (declined)

    Joe Kirsch (accepted)

    Andy Levy (declined)

    Judi Morrel (accepted)

    Brian Murphy (accepted)

    Kate Morris (declined)

    Bob Pribush (accepted)

    Jon Sorenson (declined)

    Paul Valliere (declined)

    Bill Watts (declined)

    Anne Wilson (pending)

  5. And now Comstock is the Grand Queen of the University...

    Time to dust off the ol' CV: I can't stand to work for these people any longer.

  6. Judi Morrel new interim dean of LAS. No surprises there.

  7. It really is disapointing that the university didn't give the reason why Dean Zimmerman was replaced, that just seems so...wrong? Its not like he committed a crime and the judge won't let the rest of the world be privy to the case. I fail to understand why students and faculty (integral parts of the Butler community) aren't given information that "qualifies" for dismissal of a fellow university member.

  8. It's becauze there is no reason for it. They'll just tell everyone different stories and call anyone who disagrees with them a liar. That's what's happened before and that's what will continue to happen until this catches up with them. What goes around comes around. And hopefully soon!

    Til then, I'm joining anonymous from may 12 at 7:09 in the job hunt.

  9. I might be wrong, but for the two anonymous comments if the administration is trying to censor information and keep dissent quiet, isn't moving on only continuing the problem? When you're gone won't the administration only then seek out staff memebers etc. who will be gullible and naive to their questionable activities? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the situation, but pulling out does not seem to be the best option here. Instead efforts could be made to disseminate the little information we have among the student (as well as staff) populace that is in the dark and mobilize enough people to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

  10. You're not wrong, but the problem is that these people wear you down. They hold all of the tools of power, and are able to shape the perception of what is happening, through a public relations office and other means. For Bobby Fong, students and faculty scarcely exist. He is focused only on the Board of Trustees. He has appointed many of them, and he controls what they see and hear. So long as they are happy, he rules. It is a closed loop.

  11. Check out the poll results. Telling of anything? I think so.

  12. True, however, what crossection of the Butler populace has answered the poll? The average Butler student is not even aware of this site. If you are tapping into a underground news source, are you pre-disposed to believe that there are problems in the administration? That is also a reason for such a lopsided poll. However, as stated above we agree that this is not a positive action by the university.

  13. The upper administration at BU make it a terrible place to work. Either fong and his hench(wo)men (comstock et al) will need to leave or there will continue to be serious problems retaining talented faculty.