Campus, News

Robert Loftis named Pardee associate dean for studies

Robert Loftis, a former U.S. ambassador to Lesotho and current international relations professor at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, was named associate dean for studies at Pardee Jan. 24. 

Loftis said Pardee created the associate dean position in an attempt to streamline and centralize the efforts made towards providing students with professional and academic opportunities. 

Boston University Professor of the Practice of International Relations Robert Loftis was appointed the new associate dean for studies at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies Friday. COURTESY ROBERT LOFTIS

“This is really part of a larger effort we’re undertaking at Pardee with the creation of the Office of Student Services,” Loftis said, “to really try to do more in terms of improving the academic and professional preparation and support that we give to students.” 

The creation of Loftis’ new title is the product of Pardee consolidating two roles: director of graduate studies and director of undergraduate studies. Loftis said there was much overlap in the duties of these two roles, and that it made more sense to have one person oversee both sets of tasks.

“There’s a lot of things we do for graduate students and things we do for undergraduate students, and then there are a lot of things we do the same for both,” Loftis said. “A lot of professional development [work], for example, there’s not much of a difference between [graduates and undergraduates].”

Adil Najam, dean of Pardee, said the creation of the position came as a result of natural changes in Pardee over time.

“Ever since we became a school, a number of things have evolved and I think this is one of those logical evolutions of the school,” Najam said. “To me, the most key part is, as a school, putting students at the center of everything that we do.”

As for Loftis acquiring the position, Najam said Loftis’ clear care for students and passion for the field made him the right choice.

“He is someone who understands and has spent a lifetime in the world that our students have been trained for: the world of international affairs,” Najam said. “Most importantly, his passion and advocacy for students made him the obvious choice for this position.”

Loftis said this new role mirrors the structure of many other peer institutions of Pardee, which played a factor in determining the position should be implemented.

“I think it’s important to point out that this is really reflects the growth of Pardee as a school,” Loftis said. “If you look at a lot of our peer institutions, this is a similar structure to what they have, and that reflects the rival of Pardee among the ranks of the better schools of global studies.”

As Pardee continues to expand its efforts at helping students access more opportunities, Najam said there is value in having a faculty member at the associate dean level who can oversee these opportunities.

“Our thought was that creating the position of this associate dean brings [student] issues and priorities to a much higher level of importance that they deserve,” Najam said. “It’s not that they weren’t important before, but this allows that importance we’ve always had for our students to be reflected in the leadership structure of the school.”

Alexander Lo, a senior in Pardee, said he can see both positive and negative outcomes from the creation of Loftis’ new position.

“BU is like a big bureaucracy in many ways, and sometimes it makes sense to streamline things,” Lo said. “At the same time, I guess one could argue that there are differences, obviously, between undergraduate and graduate studies, and it might be beneficial to have more specialized attention given to them.”

Sapan Gupta, a junior in the College of Engineering, said he thinks the consolidation of two roles into Loftis’ new position is a good idea that could lead to quicker decision-making.

“I think it’s a good thing because there’s just less overhead,” Gupta said. “Giving one person more power will lead to better efficiency, I think.” 

Devon Skidmore, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said sometimes having more oversight can be a useful tool, but time will tell if the new position pays off.

“Sometimes it does just take more people and the more hands you have on deck the better it is,” Skidmore said. “So, I guess in the end you hope that it benefits the students, but only time will tell.”

NOTE: Spring 2020 Editor-in-Chief Victoria Bond represents the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies as a dean’s ambassador. She was not involved in the reporting or editing of this story.

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