EDITORIAL: Shapiro’s mixed track record as provost
Last year, 19 units of Central Michigan University declared no confidence in President George Ross and Provost Gary Shapiro.
The likes of which were not met well by Shapiro. In fact, his feelings were hurt, he told members of the Central Michigan Life Editorial Board late last week. Now, in his third year as provost, Shapiro is stepping down at the end of the year and going back to teaching.
It seems that now, in Ross’s third year as president, changes — both cosmetic and internal — are finally being made to the university’s administration. Renee Walker was replaced by communications expert Sherry Knight over the summer, changing the feel of Ross’ administration and now Shapiro has announced his resignation a full eight months before the end of the 2012-13 academic year.
But looking back at his tenure as provost — he was named to the interim post in 2007 and again in 2009-10 before taking over the job full-time in ’10 — brings up a mixed track record.
In 2005, the CMU Promise — a guarantee that all students would pay a flat tuition rate — was put into effect. By summer of 2008, that promise was no more. Although Shapiro was still fairly new to the provost position at that time, he dealt with much of the backlash from students who just missed the promise.
The decision to open CMED brought a whirlwind for Shapiro. Despite efforts to pull the project off without a hitch, complaints of hidden agendas, mystery budgets and a lack of communication brought a black cloud over CMED and the cloud still hasn’t been shaken.
At the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year, Shapiro was faced with a faculty strike on the first day of classes. Although we didn’t hear much from him at this point, his partner in crime, Ross, had quite a bit to say that offended quite a few people.
Yet, through it all, Shapiro managed to to gain approval from deans of some colleges, with comments like “I’m glad he’ll be around for the transition,” and “Shapiro is a strong and powerful leader.”
While his track record might be mixed, his resignation should give the university plenty of time to find a replacement. That candidate, who may be looked at from the inside, should also have strong qualifications but also provide a breath of fresh air to the campus community.
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