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During a career spanning more than three decades, College of General Studies Dean Linda Wells has served in many roles at BU. Wells arrived in 1980 as a CGS junior faculty member, teaching courses in literature, film, and ethical philosophy. She was later promoted to chair of the CGS division of humanities and rhetoric and was a special faculty assistant to the provost for 10 years before becoming dean in 2000.
Wells recently announced that the spring 2013 semester will be her last as dean of the college. Following a sabbatical leave, she will return to the University to serve as an advisor on student career development and alumni relations.
“I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed all of my roles at the University,” she says. “But I think you come to a point where you want to do something slightly different.”
Her new position will afford her more time for research. The author of many articles and scholarly papers, Wells’ areas of interest include African American literature and culture. She also has conducted research on identity and work.
In the fall 2010 issue of Collegian, the CGS alumni magazine, she recalled a childhood spent on her grandparents’ cattle ranch in Colorado. She came to understand the role that work plays in shaping a person’s life and identity. She will draw on that experience as she helps students plan their careers. “It will feel like teaching without actually being in the classroom,” says Wells.
During Wells’ tenure as dean, the two-year college has seen a period of enormous growth, emerging as a respected hub for undergraduate education. She undertook many initiatives aimed at enhancing the CGS student experience, including the establishment of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, broadening the curricular offerings, instituting new study abroad programs in London (and soon in Shanghai), and overseeing major facilities improvements.
Jay Halfond has stepped down after nearly a dozen years at the helm of Metropolitan College. He plans to take a yearlong sabbatical, beginning this summer, before returning to BU to teach and conduct research.
Halfond says the move represents “a long-anticipated fundamental career change for me,” adding, “I am a serial innovator, and I suspect this will continue now more in how and what I teach and write about.”
One of BU’s largest schools, MET offers undergraduate and graduate degrees virtually and in the more traditional classroom setting. Halfond joined BU in 1997 as MET’s associate dean and an associate professor of administrative sciences and took over as dean in 2001. Since that time, MET has added 9 new degree programs, 29 new academic and professional certificates, and 11 new concentrations, and 12 master’s degree programs and one undergraduate program have been transitioned to fully online formats.
Halfond led the launch in 2002 of BU’s distance education program, which now has more than 6,000 alumni, from every state and over 30 countries, and today supports 3,000 online students annually.
“One of my most gratifying activities has been to develop online distance learning—before it became fashionable—as an academically credible, highly engaging, and rich and rigorous endeavor,” Halfond says. “I have probably met in person more online students than anyone else in the University, and I have come to value what an important educational breakthrough our programs provide to a mature, global audience.”
In 2010, the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit that promotes online education, gave the University its Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education.
Halfond says that when he returns to the University in summer 2014, he hopes to teach ethics, negotiations, and leadership in MET, in MET’s Prison Education Program, online, and in the School of Education’s higher education program.
Tanya Zlateva, MET’s associate dean for academic programs and an associate professor of computer science, became interim dean on January 1, 2013.
In his two years as dean of the School of Hospitality Administration, Christopher Muller didn’t get much rest. He made it his mission to redesign the school’s academic curriculum, he guided students toward a greater understanding of the international hospitality market through study abroad and courses here at BU, and he networked with industry leaders to give SHA graduates an edge in the job market.
Now he is moving on to something new.
Muller left his post as dean of SHA at the end of the fall 2012 semester; after a brief sabbatical he will return to serve on the school’s faculty in the field of hospitality administration. He will focus on his core research areas of corporate and multiunit restaurant brand management, chain restaurant organization development and growth, and the training of multiunit management.
Arun Upneja, a professor of hospitality management and associate dean for academic affairs at Pennsylvania State University’s Schreyer Honors College, has been appointed the new dean of SHA. He will take up the post July 1, 2013.
Under Muller’s direction, SHA was one of the beneficiaries of a two-year, $8.6 million installation and improvement project for wireless access on the Charles River Campus, covering more than 200 classrooms as well as dining facilities and dorm rooms. Following the upgrade, the school bought 80 iPads for faculty and students and incorporated interactive textbooks and realtime student polling of learning outcomes into classes.
Muller is a comfortable and welcome presence in front of a class. He was a guest lecturer at SHA in 1994 when the school was a subsidiary program of Metropolitan College. Previously, he helped found the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the largest hospitality management college in North America. He also taught at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, where he won Hospitality Teacher of the Year five times.
“As anyone who knows me will agree, I seem to be at my best in a classroom,” Muller says. “In fact, I often say I look at teaching as a competitive sport, always striving to make my lecture this morning the one you will still be discussing over dinner with your friends tonight.”