USU’s HASS dean announces plans to step down in June

Yolanda Flores Niemann, the dean of USU’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, announced Tuesday that she will step down as the college’s top administrator in June.Niemann, who came to USU in 2008, said she didn’t feel she would be effective as dean going forward, in large part because of difficult decisions she had to make during her tenure.”I came into a very difficult position as dean here and I’ve had to make a lot of difficult decisions,” Niemann said Tuesday. “I’m not sure that I’m the person to continue to move the college forward.”Niemann admitted that there was some faculty discontent with decisions she made but said it’s the nature of the beast for a dean to have to make decisions that are best for the college as a whole, not just for individual departments.”It’s not a secret that some of the decisions I made were unpopular,” she said. Niemann’s announcement was made public Tuesday afternoon in a statement posted on USU’s Web site.In the USU statement, Niemann cited the separation of the Caine School of the Arts into its own college as an impetus behind the decision that made now the right time for her announcement, but over the past year, several faculty members in various departments had voiced their displeasure with Niemann’s leadership.”It has been gratifying to be at the helm of this college,” Niemann said in the statement. “It has been a privilege to work with the dedicated faculty, staff and students in HASS to lead the college through the most difficult economic downturn in our nation’s history since the Great Depression.”The official USU statement listed several accomplishments made in the college under Niemann’s leadership, namely the balancing of the college’s budget after a record deficit, but it did not list what some may consider one of Niemann’s missteps, and that was the failed merger of the Department of Journalism and Communication and Department of Speech Communications. The merger of the departments was viewed negatively by most faculty members involved, and some indicated a problem with how the process to merge the colleges went about. As of now, there are no more plans to merge those departments.The department heads in the HASS college also collectively released a statement Tuesday evening thanking Niemann for her time as dean.”As we enter a period of transition following Dean Niemann’s announced resignation earlier today, the department heads, program directors and faculty of the College are presented with exciting opportunities involving the creation of two new colleges—one comprising the fine arts and the other an entirely new college of social sciences and humanities programs,” the statement read. “This is a defining moment for the students, staff and faculty of both new units, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to redefine and reinvent how our departments and programs can serve our students and interact with each other in collaborative and innovative ways.” The full statement regarding Niemann’s stepping down that was released by USU can be read below:

<em>Yolanda Flores Niemann, dean of Utah State University’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), has announced her request to President Stan L. Albrecht not to renew her administrative appointment at the conclusion of this academic year in June. Niemann, who has been dean of the university’s largest college since 2008, said now is the right time to make a change. She said that the disaggregation of HASS into two new academic colleges marks an exciting new period and an appropriate time for new deans to assume leadership. “It has been gratifying to be at the helm of this college,” she said. “It has been a privilege to work with the dedicated faculty, staff and students in HASS to lead the college through the most difficult economic downturn in our nation’s history since the Great Depression.” Niemann said her top priority of eliminating the college’s deficit, combined with mandated budget reductions, forced her to make some very difficult decisions that were not always popular, but were critical for the future of the college. “Now we have a solid financial and programmatic foundation for the future of the two new colleges,” she said. “At this pivotal period, I am ready to move aside and create an opportunity for new leaders to take their respective colleges to the next level of success and achievement.” Niemann will continue as dean until June 30, 2010, and will remain with the university in a new capacity to be announced at a later date. Throughout the remainder of this semester, Niemann will be engaged in discussions with Albrecht and USU Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond T. Coward to determine how her talents can be best utilized in the interest of the entire university. She said she wanted to announce her intentions now, however, to provide the university with sufficient time to identify leadership for both of the new academic colleges. “Dr. Niemann accepted the HASS deanship at a very difficult time and through her leadership the two new colleges are positioned for further success,” Coward said. “She has been instrumental in leading the college to an historic and exciting crossroad in its history, and we are grateful for her hard work and many efforts on behalf of the university.” Coward said that he will begin, immediately, to consult with faculty in the two new restructured colleges as the university moves forward to identify appropriate leadership for both units.  Under Niemann’s leadership, the College of HASS has achieved significant milestones, including: -returning the college from a record deficit to a balanced budget; -providing research seed money and increasing external funding in the college; -creation of the Art Barn grant fund initiative to construct a new anthropology museum; -creation of new studios for art, interior design and landscape architecture; -creating scholarships for members of the HASS staff; -developing graduate and undergraduate student advisory boards; and renewing attention on faculty development, especially for promotion from associate to full professor; and -initiation of a faculty, staff and student engagement process for setting curricular and structural priorities for the future of the college  “I am very proud to have gotten to know so many people of great achievement at USU,” Niemann said. “Every one of the HASS departments has achieved important progress and is positioning themselves for further success. The two new restructured colleges have the potential to become renowned for excellence in their respective areas.” Niemann said she has been particularly impressed and inspired by the students in her college and at USU. She said she remains highly committed to USU and is anxious to use her skills to help the university reach its full potential. “My husband, Barry, and I love the Cache Valley,” she said. “We both look forward to continuing our future in Logan and at USU.”</em>

——The department heads of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Science also collectively released the following statement:

<em>The associate deans, department heads and program directors of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences have released the following statement:We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Yolanda Flores Niemann for her service as dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences during a particularly difficult time of acute budget cuts and transition to form two new colleges. Brought in to shepherd the College through difficult times, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the faculty, staff and students of Utah State University.As we enter a period of transition following Dean Niemann’s announced resignation earlier today, the department heads, program directors and faculty of the College are presented with exciting opportunities involving the creation of two new colleges—one comprising the fine arts and the other an entirely new college of social sciences and humanities programs. This is a defining moment for the students, staff and faculty of both new units, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to redefine and reinvent how our departments and programs can serve our students and interact with each other in collaborative and innovative ways. We look forward to engaging the faculty, staff and students from across the two new colleges in conversations about future directions for both units, and how they will serve the university, our students and the people of the state of Utah.</em>

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