CAS seeks new leadership after dean resigns

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) John Skvoretz resigned Monday with “regret and relief,” according to an e-mail sent to the Oracle.

“Relief as the past six months have been extremely stressful and not just on me but many others,” he wrote. “Regret in that I will not be in a position to help steer the college through what are likely to be some very tumultuous waters in the coming months.”

Skvoretz has served as dean since 2004.

Skvoretz wrote that he did not resign in reaction to decisions made because of budget cuts, but that the cuts have been “very, very disheartening.”

“(Especially) coming at a time when the college was ready to mature into a full-profile teaching and research operation, as we looked forward to adding doctoral programs in history, political science, and sociology – programs that are found in nearly all AAU and Very High Research institutions,” he wrote.

Skvoretz resigned because his style of leadership differed from what the college now needs, according to an e-mail sent to CAS faculty and staff.

“It has been extremely difficult over the past six months to see the advocating of proposals for its potential dismantling with quite limited consideration of the up and down sides of such an large and potentially contentious undertaking,” he wrote.

Provost Ralph Wilcox said he learned of Skvoretz’s intentions late last week and that doing so allowed him to find a replacement.

“He provided me the opportunity to consult with leaders in the College of Arts and Sciences and across campus so we could attract the very right person to provide the right leadership needed for that time,” he said.

Wilcox wrote in an e-mail to the faculty and staff of CAS that Skvoretz “guided the College through a period of growth in student and faculty headcount, degree productivity, and increases in external research funding.”

Skvoretz’s resignation will become effective Aug. 6, when Eric Eisenberg will replace him. Eisenberg is a professor in the communication department and former chair of the department. He will serve as interim dean until the University hires a permanent replacement. Eisenberg expects to hold the position for about a year.

Eisenberg said he took the position under the condition that he would not be a candidate for the permanent job. He has been a communications professor at USF for 15 years and said he wants to make the college stronger despite budget cuts.

“I’ve seen a lot of deans and provosts come and go,” he said. “Coming into this position, I see myself as providing a service at a difficult time.”

Eisenberg said that he will try to show those in CAS that there is “a positive road out of this.”

“I don’t want to see this economic downturn drive people apart,” he said.

Wilcox said the University is conducting a national search to find a permanent CAS dean. There is no deadline, but he hopes to select a search committee by the end of the summer.

“These searches do take time and we’re going to have to work hard to attract the kind of leader we need to maintain these successful accomplishments (of the college),” he said.

Wilcox said that Florida’s economic state does not make it easy to attract new leaders.

“It’s not a particularly easy time to find people,” he said.

Additional reporting by Harrison Reed.