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.