Surprise development: Dean of Sanford School to step down

✔✔✔✔ Fact Checker here. Probative. Provocative. Pro-Duke.

Peter the Provost announced this morning that the Dean of Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy -- Bruce Kuniholm -- will step down next June in the middle of his five year term.

But unlike another Monday morning surprise -- when Peter announced the abrupt departure of Dean Blair Sheppard of the Fuqua Business School with seven days notice -- this one has reasons everyone can understand and appreciate.

Dean Kuniholm -- who was appointed to lead the Sanford Institute 12 years ago and grew it into a School, doubling the number of public policy faculty -- will be turning 70 years old. (Facts: The faculty increased by 29, three more searches are underway)

Said Kuniholm: The school is on solid financial footing, and 12 years at the helm “is long enough for anyone... Some of us have been here from the beginning and we believe it is time for a new generation of leaders who have joined our faculty and contributed to our growth to build on what has been done and develop an enhanced vision for the future.

“I have loved every minute of it, but I will be 70 next year and I would like to do a little more research and teaching -- which I have sorely missed -- before I retire."

✔✔✔ Kuniholm is one of the few high level administrators who is an alum, earning a MA in public policy, an MA in history, and a PhD in history. He was an undergraduate at Dartmouth.

✔✔✔ A Deputy FC reports that Kuniholm is also one of the few who served in the military, as a Marine rifle platoon commander in Vietnam. He is notable -- and appreciated by FC -- for holding seminars and other appropriate observances of the contribution of our veterans on holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day -- occasions that President Brodhead ignored despite the continuing pleas of stakeholders.

Kuniholm's father was a West Point graduate. His son Jonathan was also a Marine, losing an arm in Iraq.

The above was not in the press release. This was:

“Bruce has been an outstanding campus leader,” said Lange, the university’s chief academic officer. “Not only did he lead the complex process of transition (from Institute to full fledged School) with great skill, including raising all of the targeted resources despite the economic downturn, but he also worked with his faculty to place the new school at the hub of the university’s strategic priorities, with outstanding new faculty hires and extensive faculty and programmatic collaborations.

“We are deeply indebted to him for his vision as a Sanford and Duke leader and collaborator. We are fortunate that while he is stepping away from the dean’s role, he will not be lost to our community.”

The university will conduct a national search for a new dean that will be led by Helen F. Ladd, the Edgar T. Thompson Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and professor of economics. Ladd is the president of the Association for Public Policy and Management, the principal national organization for scholars and schools of public policy.

End of press release.

✔✔✔ Kuniholm came to Duke in 1975.

His record in the administration (that makes it sound like a rap sheet, lol) includes service as vice provost for academic and international affairs, and director of the Center for Institutional Studies. Despite that background, FC finds it rather interesting that in Duke's current push to land in all four corners of the globe at once, the Sanford school has been so low key, letting Fuqua take the lead and stumble so badly.

Rather than plant Duke in other nations to serve indigenous peoples, Kuniholm seemed to favor enriching the experience for students and faculty in Durham as a way to achieve distinction as an international university. Thus he led the initiation of the Global Semester Abroad in India and China, a partnership with Ho Chi Minh University in Vietnam, and a Duke in D.C. public policy program is being developed and is expected to launch next year.

✔✔ Kuniholm was called upon twice to lead Sanford. First when it was an Institute in 1989 to 1994, named of course for the beloved former President of Duke who had been Governor of North Carolina (and later would serve as a U S Senator) and then starting in 2005 when the Institute began to stir about elevating itself into Duke's 10th school. Under his leadership, the Sanford School was created in 2009 and he was made founding Dean.

He guided the effort to raise $40 million in initial endowment funds for the new school, started an annual fundraising program for the school, and negotiated the necessary organizational and fiscal restructuring.

Raising the money was difficult. Falling short of its goal, but nonetheless gaining approval for expansion, Trustee David Rubenstein -- in the news today for a $13.6 million contribution to the Library -- spoke up unexpectedly after hearing a progress report and put the final $5.75 million in the endowment pot. His fellow Trustees, elated, named the 2nd Sanford building for him: Rubenstein Hall.

“Bruce Kuniholm played a decisive role in driving the transformation of the Sanford Institute to a full-fledged school,” said President Brodhead. “We are deeply grateful for his dynamic leadership and his ability to connect Sanford’s teaching and scholarship with so many other parts of Duke. His vision has been imprinted on the history of this university.”

Before Duke, Kuniholm taught at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey and was in the U.S. Department of State, first in the Bureau of Intelligence, then as a member of the policy planning staff.

And to round out his biography, he received fellowships from a list of places: the Council on Foreign Relations, National Endowment for the Humanities, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Norwegian Nobel Institute. Publications: yep, more than 100 books, articles, chapters and book reviews.

In 1989, he received the Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award for his classroom work with undergraduates.

Thank you for reading FC.

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