University announces new Batten School dean Allan Stam

Michigan Prof. faces challenges of resources, faculty, policy scope, Breneman says


Image courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

“Dean Harding [and many others] have done an extraordinary job,” Stam said. “The task of the dean and of the administration at this point is to continue the direction…that dean Harding and the other faculty have created to this point.”

The University announced Thursday it has selected Michigan Prof. Allan Stam, a former Army officer and national security and international relations policy expert, as the second dean of the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Stam said his main goal as dean will be to continue the work of outgoing Dean Harry Harding and the Batten School’s current faculty.

“Dean Harding [and many others] have done an extraordinary job,” Stam said. “The task of the dean and of the administration at this point is to continue the direction … that Dean Harding and the other faculty have created to this point.”

While mostly skirting specific proposals for the School, Stam said he hoped to chart his direction in consultation with students and faculty members during a series of conversations this fall.

“The Batten School belongs to the faculty and students of the University of Virginia,” Stam said. “The first step this summer and then in the fall … is to have a community dialogue about the directions in which the school wants to double down.”

Education Prof. David Breneman, who chaired the dean search process and led the Batten School before Harding arrived, said Stam’s work on leadership was of particular interest to the dean search committee.

“Our really distinctive feature is we have leadership in the title, and we struggled a bit to make that real,” Breneman said, referring to the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy’s official name. “And one nice thing about the incoming dean is [leadership is] a big interest of his. … That was certainly one of the strong points in his favor [and] that was a strong part of the selection process.”

Improving leadership training within the Batten School is atop Stam’s list of priorities.

“The United States suffers from something as of a teamwork and leadership gap,” Stam said. “That vision, I think, is at the core of what the School really is about.”

Breneman said Stam will need to address least six key issues aside from developing the leadership program when he gets to Grounds in July — including faculty hiring, program and curriculum development, the school’s location on Grounds, fundraising, connections to the policy community and the University’s new Responsibility-Centered Management budgeting model.

“We’ve kind of come through our childhood and now we’re in our adolescence,” Breneman said.

Breneman said the school would not need more than 24 to 25 permanent faculty members in the near future, but it still has to work out other faculty-related concerns, such as how it nominates, reviews and approves faculty members for tenure.

Similarly, Breneman said though the Batten School has essentially finished developing its programs — accelerated and postgraduate masters programs in addition to the undergraduate major — it still needs to adjust the internal details of its curriculum.

“We’ve pretty much got the main programs in place, but they haven’t grown to their full size yet,” Breneman said. “We’ve been going long enough to start reviewing the curriculum. … There have been some modest changes made already, and more will be made.”

Breneman also said Garrett Hall, the Batten School’s present home base, would not be big enough to house even current programs once they reach their full size.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re going to start out-growing it,” Breneman said. “The question is well, what do we do? … Are there other buildings in the area that we can beg, borrow, steal or buy?”

Stam noted the trade-offs inherent in deciding whether to remain a centrally-located and small school versus a large school, potentially further from Central Grounds. Batten School founder Frank Batten, Sr. had said he wanted the school to be close to the Lawn.

Fourth-year College student Alex Wallace, the Batten Graduate Council president, said students were particularly interested in the issue of school size and how it might impact the faculty hiring process.

“Another major [challenge for the new dean] would just be ensuring the faculty reflect [our program’s size] so that we have top-quality faculty,” Wallace said.

Breneman said the Batten School’s initial $100 million endowment could not support the school in perpetuity, and the new dean will have to oversee the creation of a fundraising infrastructure. Wallace said many other public policy programs nationwide had strong alumni networks that improved their graduates’ employment opportunities and give back to the school — a work in progress for the young Batten School.

“Since we’re now going into the part where we’re having alumni coming out of all three programs, [one focus has to be] keeping those alumni connections strong,” Wallace said.

Breneman also said many wanted to see a dean who was an active presence in state and local policy.

“I think there’s a strong emphasis on wanting this dean to be visible in Washington and Richmond,” Breneman said. “Helping to spread the name, … engaging with the Washington community and the policy community.”

Stam will be the second dean in a row with a focus on international rather than domestic issues. Stam said his particular interests could expand the Batten School’s internationally-oriented offerings, and point to the importance of increasing globalization to students and policy practitioners even on the local level.

“I think there is a general agreement within the school itself and the University as a whole [that] globalization [is] of increasing interest to students and faculty,” Stam said.

Breneman said many students in the Batten School have national security and international relations policy interests, making Stam’s background particularly helpful.

“He brings another side to the Batten School that we really haven’t had before … sort of the whole international affairs side of the school,” Breneman said. “It adds a nice piece to our portfolio. … I don’t think he’s going to go in and hire a bunch of people who are exactly like him.”

University Provost John Simon praised Stam’s academic credentials in a press release Thursday.

“As one of the nation’s leading scholars of leadership, with a personal record of elite military service and administrative responsibilities in the academy, Allan Stam is the clear choice to further advance Frank Batten’s vision of a school of public policy focused on leadership,” Simon said.

Breneman said the 17-member dean search committee he chaired, which included Batten and College faculty, two students and other officials, began its work at the beginning of this academic year. Simon and University President Teresa Sullivan made the final hiring decision.

Stam will begin his term July 1.

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