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MET Dean to Assume New Post

Interim dean will take over January 1

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Jay Halfond, Boston University BU, Metropolitan College, School of Education

Jay Halfond, dean of Metropolitan College, will step down at the end of December. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

After nearly a dozen years helming BU’s Metropolitan College, Dean Jay Halfond will step down at the end of the fall semester. He will teach a graduate seminar at the School of Education next semester before taking a yearlong sabbatical, beginning next summer. He plans to teach and conduct research when he returns.

Halfond says the move represents “a long-anticipated fundamental career change for me,” adding, “I am a serial innovator, and suspect this will continue now more in how and what I teach and write about.”

In a letter sent to BU faculty and staff earlier this week, Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, wrote that Halfond oversaw “significant growth and change both within MET and Boston University—particularly in the advent of distance learning” during his years of service. Morrison went on to note Halfond’s role in launching BU’s first fully online distance learning degree program a decade ago.

“Throughout his time at BU, Dean Halfond has represented a strong voice in support of academic innovation, demonstrated a generosity of spirit in partnering with schools and colleges across the University, and helped to create an environment within BU that fosters technological and pedagogical experimentation in the continual pursuit of excellence,” Morrison wrote.

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. In addition, 12 master’s degree 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.

In addition to his work at MET, Halfond cochaired the President’s Council for Boston University and the Global Future from 2006 to 2007 and chaired the President’s Council for a Global University beginning in 2008. He served on the American Council on Education’s Commission on Lifelong Learning, was a contributing editor of the Journal of Continuing Higher Education, and publishes a periodic column for the New England Journal of Higher Education.

Prior to his arrival at BU, Halfond was associate dean of the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University and held administrative positions at Harvard University. He earned a BA in history from Temple University, a master’s in comparative history from Brandeis University, and a PhD in higher education administration from Boston College.

Halfond says that when he returns to teaching in summer 2014, he hopes to teach ethics, negotiations, and leadership in MET, in MET’s prison education program, online, and in SED’s higher education program.

“I have workaholic tendencies, so ‘sabbatical’ will be a bit of a misnomer and anything but restful,” he says. “While on sabbatical, I plan to develop courses, write articles and instructional cases, and become better connected with various University centers, and externally as well. I am intrigued by the recent upheaval in higher education nationally, and look forward to participating more in the issues and new enterprises that have been emerging.”

Morrison announced that Tanya Zlateva, MET’s associate dean for academic programs and an associate professor of computer science, will become interim dean beginning January 1, 2013.

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Amy Laskowski

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

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