Cronkite School dean named vice provost of campus amid bevy of administrative shuffles

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Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School, has been named vice provost of the Downtown campus. (Stephanie Snyder/DD)

By Angie Millar and Connor Radnovich

The dean of the Walter Cronkite School has been named vice provost of ASU Downtown and top-level vacancies in two other Downtown colleges are being filled with interim appointments, the university announced Friday.

Christopher Callahan will now share his responsibilities as dean of the Cronkite School with that of vice provost of the Downtown campus, effectively becoming the campus’ top administrator. The move takes place a month after Debra Friedman, the university vice president for the campus, announced her departure from ASU for an administrative job at the University of Washington Tacoma starting July 1.

Callahan said the Cronkite School, as well as the Downtown campus as a whole, has to expand into the surrounding community in addition to expanding its national profile.

“We want to grow not only in size but in the feel of community,” Callahan said. “I think that’s one thing we do well at the Cronkite School.”

Callahan said his first action as vice provost will be to talk with students and professors from different majors to get an idea of what a diverse group of students want from the campus.

University Provost Elizabeth Capaldi, who appointed Callahan to his new position, said he has shown great leadership ability while dean of the Cronkite School and he deserved the promotion that the vice provost position brings.

Capaldi said Callahan will be primarily responsible for bringing more national publicity to ASU, specifically the Downtown campus, expanding some of the Cronkite School’s programs to the entire Downtown campus and trying to bring the campus together.

“We’d like to have a more and more tight campus with a feeling of hominess,” Capaldi said.

Capaldi and Callahan will be meeting with President Michael Crow within the next couple of weeks to discuss specific goals.

The vice provost appointment is the second new position Callahan has received in the last couple months. He was also appointed to the Board of Directors for the American Society of News Editors in early April.

Capaldi said she was not concerned about Callahan being spread too thin with the new positions while remaining dean of the Cronkite School and that he had both the “time and capacity” to be vice provost. Much of the hard work regarding the Cronkite School – like moving to the Downtown campus and raising the school’s national reputation – has already been done.

“He’s got the Cronkite School running like a top,” Capaldi said.

Callahan said that much of his time will still be spent with the Cronkite School and that the responsibilities of his new position will overlap with his current job.

“They’re not really separate duties,” Callahan said. “I don’t see them as exclusive. What benefits the campus benefits Cronkite. The majority of my time will still be with Cronkite.”

Interim administrative changes being made this summer

Two other Downtown deans were appointed to interim positions in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the College of Public Programs, moves also announced by the University on Friday.

Craig Thatcher, executive dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, was appointed as interim executive vice provost for Health Outcomes@ASU, effective June 1.

College spokesman Terry Olbrysh said Thatcher’s term was indefinite.

The length of the appointment “depends on how long it takes for an official replacement,” Olbrysh said. “Since the search is just beginning we can’t predict. They’re trying to find the best person. It’s a very thoughtful process — something not to be done too quickly. It has to be done right.”

Olbrysh added that Thatcher may be considered as a candidate for the position on a non-interim basis. Olbrysh also said Thatcher said he is looking forward to his new position.

According to Olbrysh, Thatcher’s main goal is to maintain an efficient and stable organization that’s productive with each discipline while doing the best he can to oversee everything.

The last interim position was for the College of Public Programs and was given to Dean of University College Frederick Corey who will take up the post on June 6.

Corey, who also serves as a vice provost and director of the School of Letters and Sciences, is replacing Debra Friedman.

Corey said he has been friends with Friedman for some time and that the two have talked regularly about the future of the college

“I very much believe in the purpose of the College of Public Programs and I have great respect for the faculty in the schools,” Corey said.

Corey said he will be meeting with President Crow and Provost Capaldi in a couple weeks to go through the details of his position, and he will be working with the faculty and staff of the various schools to form future goals.

Capaldi said it is “completely normal” for a few administrators to leave after each year, especially considering there are over 20 administration positions at ASU filled by nationally sought-after personnel.

The dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Paul Schiff Berman, is also leaving ASU this summer after accepting an offer from George Washington University to head up their law school. The law school is scheduled to move to the Downtown campus in the coming years.

Capaldi added that the interim positions will not last longer than one year.

Contact the reporters at dmillar@asu.edu and connor.radnovich@asu.edu

Correction: May 25, 2011

An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated that Craig Thatcher was replacing outgoing College of Nursing and Health Innovation Dean Debra Melnyk.

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