Search For New Dean of GSAS Commences



Melissa Labonte, Interim Dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is excited to help with the program’s evolution.


The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) is at a point of transition: as the school kicks off its search for a new dean, it is also attempting to reimagine its graduate programs. On Oct. 1, Provost Dennis Jacobs announced the formation of a search committee to identify potential candidates. 

When former dean Eve Badowksa resigned as Dean of GSAS to become the Associate Vice President of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Melissa Labonte took on the role of interim dean in January 2019.

Prior to becoming the interim dean, Labonte worked as the associate dean for strategic initiatives, which she said helped prepare her to assume the new role. 

Labonte said that her goals as interim dean include “successful consolidation of past growth while advancing innovative, planned academic growth that provides the fullest level of support to students and faculty.” 

GSAS’s strategic planning goals were introduced in 2016 in order to increase its influence and offerings to students. The strategic plans encompass five priorities, which will be influential in the school’s future programming. 

“The graduate school at Fordham is a full partner in the broader arts and sciences reimagining initiative,” said Labonte. “It’s an exciting time, we’re investing in strategic changes that we hope will dramatically improve how faculty, students, and staff engage one another through their teaching and learning, research, and work.”

The search committee is looking for its next dean to help fulfill those goals. University Vice Provost and  Committee Chair Jonathan Crystal says that the school is looking for “someone committed to our mission, someone who can inspire trust and respect among the faculty, and someone whose vision, and ability to implement that vision, can strengthen graduate education at Fordham,” but that those characteristics might evolve over time. 

The committee is composed of mainly Arts and Sciences faculty, but also includes Laura Aurricho, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), and Rafael Zapata, chief diversity officer. 

“We tried to select committee members that brought a range of viewpoints and backgrounds from across different disciplines,” said Crystal. 

The search committee also plans to meet with students, faculty, staff and administrators to understand the needs of GSAS in regards to selecting a new dean. 

Over the next few months, the committee will work with the executive search firm Witt Kiefer to develop and advertise the position. Crystal confirmed that the committee plans is to interview candidates in January and February and announce the decision in early spring. The new dean will assume the position at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.