Dean resigns, says ‘I cannot be who I’m not’

After three years, the College of Arts and Sciences will need a new Dean.

Antonio Cepeda-Benito stepped down as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Feb. 13.

“This was not an easy decision or one made in haste,” Cepeda-Benito said in a Feb.13 memo to CAS faculty.

“In weighing many personal and professional considerations, I have concluded that my efforts and energies are best directed to a change in roles and responsibilities,” according to the memo.

The change in leadership is coming after Cepeda-Benito’s third-year review this past fall, according to an Oct. 7 Cynic article.

“I am extremely proud of my accomplishments as Dean of the College of Arts and Science,” Cepeda-Benito said. “By any measure the college is in better shape today than when I took the helm in the summer of 2012.”

History professor and United Academics president Denise Youngblood sees two major reasons for, what she says is Dean Cepeda-Benito’s failure to be an effective dean.      

“First, he never understood the culture in the college or in the University as a whole, nor did he make a real effort to learn,” Youngblood said.

“Dean Cepeda-Benito’s failures are not entirely his fault,” she said.  “He was the wrong person for us.”

Cepeda-Benito sees his time at UVM differently.

“I have beat the odds and come a long way because I’m honest, sincere and make decisions that are reasonable, fair and evidence-based,” Cepeda-Benito said.

CAS faculty and staff are accustomed to an inclusive, consultative and transparent leadership style, Youngblood said.

“ Instead we received ‘commands’ from the top and resistance to any alternative ideas,” she said.

“ I have a reputation for being a straight shooter and not giving into coercive, unreasonable demands to gain political currency and influence,” he said. “Many would say I do not have a political-bone in my body. That is, ultimately, what led to my resignation. I cannot be who I am not.”

A selection process for interim leadership will start soon, and will decided by March, according to a memo to CAS faculty from President Tom Sullivan and Provost David Rosowsky.

“We have asked the Dean to bring a number of strategic initiatives to closure between now and July,” the memo stated.

To help him focus on this, all financial, student affairs and personnel decisions related to the College will be handled by the associate deans and dean’s senior staff effective immediately, according to the memo.

“A smooth and effective transition is critical to the functioning of the College of Arts and Sciences,” according to the memo.

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