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CGS Dean to Step Down

Linda Wells will take on new role at BU

Boston University BU, College of General Studies CGS, Linda Wells, student career developmen alumni relations, researcht

College of General Studies Dean Linda Wells will take on a new role as an advisor on student career development and alumni relations, and she will conduct research. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Over the course of a career that has spanned more than three decades, College of General Studies Dean Linda Wells has served in many roles at Boston University. She 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. Now, she is preparing for a new challenge.

Wells recently announced that she will step down as dean of CGS at the end of the spring semester. 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,” Wells 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 numerous 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 the CGS alumni magazine, Collegian, Wells 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 plans to draw on that experience as she helps students plan their careers. “It will feel like teaching without actually being in the classroom,” she says.

In a letter to BU faculty and staff, Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, praised Wells. “Throughout her tenure, Dean Wells has been a tireless advocate for excellence in interdisciplinary, liberal arts undergraduate education at Boston University and a champion for the unique two-year program of study offered at CGS,” Morrison wrote. “We are all extremely grateful for Dean Wells’ productive and dedicated service to the University and look forward to the contributions that she will continue to make in her new role at BU.”

During Wells’ tenure as dean, the two-year college has seen a period of enormous growth, emerging as a respected hub for undergraduate education. Wells undertook numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing the student experience, including establishing the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, broadening the curricular offerings, instituting new study abroad programs in London (and soon in Shanghai), and overseeing major improvements to the facilities.

“The result has been a marked improvement in student satisfaction rates, high-quality instructional programs, and student retention and graduation rates that are among the highest in the University’s history,” Morrison wrote in her letter.

Wells earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in 19th- and 20th-century American and British literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has received numerous teaching and community service awards and has served since 2010 on the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In addition, she is a leader in several regional organizations devoted to supporting the developmentally challenged.

While reluctant to offer advice to her eventual replacement, Wells says she does hope the new dean will create additional opportunities for undergraduate student research, more study abroad placements, and opportunities for inquiry-based learning and will continue to integrate technology in the classroom.

“What I’ve been saying to a lot of people is that I feel like dancing,” Wells says, when asked about her new role. “I’m really excited.”

Morrison says an advisory committee will be formed in the coming weeks to find a new dean.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

3 Comments on CGS Dean to Step Down

  • Rob on 10.30.2012 at 12:37 am

    Interesting how 2 deans have stepped down in the past 2 months. Maybe it’s time for other administrators like President Brown to take a break as well. Dean Muller and Dean Wells seemed very passionate about the Boston University community and their programs.

  • Orly? on 10.30.2012 at 11:19 am

    Interesting how correlation doesn’t equal causation.

  • John on 10.30.2012 at 8:28 pm

    Perhaps CGS will be no more, also? The school used to be a place that helped veterans re-entering academia. Now that there are far fewer returning vets, there doesn’t seem to be much purpose in keeping it around.

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