To my many current and former students who inquired...

Yes, I am no longer Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (CMPS). Thanks for asking!

For not quite two years I advocated for excellence in our college's programs on behalf of students. There is much that is right within CMPS departments, so it was an honor to serve in such a role at the flagship. As ADUE I also found many ways to improve student outcomes: advising (especially of potentially at-risk students), partnership and collaboration with other members of the College Park family, science outreach to the broader state community, scholarly engagement with high schools and community colleges, and basic business processes are all areas where we identified strategic issues and set about to implement improvements.

The chief resource needed to win improvements in these areas was permission and authority to get in the game. Unfortunately, as the case for change grew stronger, so did leadership's resistance to change grow stronger. My list of pressing questions and unaddressed issues, documented over a period of many months, only grew longer. For want of permission to access basic student data (that is routinely shared with counterparts in other colleges) common sense recruiting and outreach activities that were our charge simply could not be performed. For want of permission to build a team, CMPS office staff worked hard and in isolation, rather than efficiently as a unit. For want of Dean Halperin making basic business decisions - my way, someone else's way but at least some way - student services deteriorated, program quality declined and costs went up.

Some of the paper trail evidencing administrative negligence is available [linked off home page]. While those documents are now dated, most of the issues they identify remain, and if anything are more pressing than ever.

I am sincerely proud of the undergraduate office staff members - those few who remained after the Dean's purges - since their personal sacrifices on behalf of students they deeply care for were all that kept college programs from complete disaster. Herculean efforts only enabled more abusive behavior from above, however, and they were rewarded with more cuts.

Ultimately, when we finally got the attention of the CMPS Dean, instead of giving permission to get in the game he berated our efforts on behalf of student-centered programs and directed me not to go beyond "paper shuffling" in the office. This presented me with the worst possible professional conflict of interest - I was ordered to tank the very programs for which, in the eyes of the rest of campus, I was responsible. Campus leadership should not be in the business of telling us what we may not try on behalf of our students, and so for this reason, after exhausting all avenues of possible relief on campus, I resigned as Associate Dean in order to protest having been placed in such a no-win bind. My last day in that role was in December 2009. Since then I have been back in the Computer Science Department, where, unlike any administrator in the dean's office who is thus barred, I am again free to advocate on behalf of excellence in our programs and for my students.

-- Jim Purtilo, 2010