UPDATE: CLA dean Johnny Payne resigns

Andrew Sheeler / Sun Star Reporter
April 6, 2012

Prof. Johnny Payne, new dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), on Aug. 25, 2011. Jeremia Schrock/Sun Star

Prof. Johnny Payne, new dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), on Aug. 25, 2011. Jeremia Schrock/Sun Star

April 10, 2012 – This story has been updated to include comments from Chancellor Brian Rogers.

After less than one year in the position, Johnny Payne resigned as dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Payne announced his resignation, effective July 1, through an email sent to CLA faculty and staff on Friday, April 6.

The letter alludes to “much speculation” regarding his resignation. Payne wrote that it was his sole decision to step down. He did not specify why he is resigning his position. Payne will remain with the university as an English professor. He is currently out of town traveling, according to UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes.

Associate Dean Anita Hartmann announced via email that she has been selected as interim dean.

“In the meantime, rest assured that we have excellent Chairs/Directors and staff, that all necessary administrative business is being appropriately handled,”Hartman wrote. “I am in regular and substantive conversation with appropriate administrators on important matters of college affairs so that  we can plan for a smooth close out of the academic and fiscal years, and effect a fully informed transition to the next.”

Grimes said there’s “any number of things that could happen.” The university could choose another interim dean, Chancellor Brian Rogers could appoint a new dean or the university could perform a state-wide or national search for one. “This was not something that the provost and the HR department expected,” she said.

In an email, Rogers said he was “disappointed to see Payne resign.” The chancellor wished Payne well and said he trusted the provost and the CLA faculty leaders to “find a new dean who will continue to advance the important work of UAF’s largest college.”

The sudden departure of Payne has caused a concerned reaction with some within CLA.

“It’s distressing news,” Sine Anahita, associate professor in sociology, said. She declined to comment further.

Below is the letter sent by Payne.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

After much contemplation, I have made a decision to step down as Dean of Liberal Arts, effective July 1, 2012. Because there has been much speculation, I wish to make clear that this decision is mine alone. I have received all appropriate support from many administrators and professors, most especially from Provost Henrichs and Chancellor Rogers, for which I am appreciative. My first consideration has been my own health and well-being. In addition, my respect for the College of Liberal Arts guides me to want what is best for all concerned. I make this choice with care, after taking time to seek advice calmly and to contemplate options. I am grateful for having had the opportunity this year to try my hand at deanship, and to learn much of value about its significant challenges. I step down with good will toward each and every individual at UAF I have come to know, and look forward to working, as a member of the faculty, toward goals of common interest.

With respect,
Johnny Payne

This is a developing story and coverage will continue as it unfolds.

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