Athens, Ga. – Del Dunn, vice president for instruction at the University of Georgia, announced today that he will retire effective Dec. 1, concluding nearly four decades as a UGA faculty member and administrator.
Dunn, who is also a Regents Professor of public administration and policy in the School of Public and International Affairs, has been vice president for instruction since 2002. Before that he held several other administrative posts including director of the Institute of Higher Education, associate vice president for academic affairs, acting head of the political science department and director of the Institute of Government.
Dunn joined UGA’s political science faculty in 1967 right out of graduate school and, except for a two-year leave, has never worked elsewhere. He has taught hundreds of students (including children of former students), written three books, dozens of book chapters and journal articles, and held national and regional leadership positions in his professional field.
He has participated in such UGA milestones as the Bicentennial celebration in 1984-85 and the Olympics in 1996, and he’s long been a fixture in institutional governance and policy matters at UGA and for the University System of Georgia.
“Few people have contributed to the university’s academic advancement more consistently and conscientiously over a longer period of time than Del,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams.
“Through his leadership in improving instruction and strengthening the academic environment, and his own accomplishments as a teacher, scholar and faculty leader, he has achieved a career of extraordinary productivity and success. I thank him personally, and on behalf of the university, for his exceptional service and wish him the best in retirement.”
As vice president, Dunn has focused on providing improved learning opportunities for UGA students and challenging them to perform better academically. He was co-chair of the Task Force on General Education and Student Learning, which developed an extensive list of recommendations to strengthen the learning experience and increase academic rigor at the undergraduate level.
Dunn’s office has created specialized learning communities in which undergraduates interested in a particular area live in the same residence hall and study and work together. His office was also instrumental in establishing an Office of Service Learning that enables students to apply what they’ve learned in classrooms and labs to real-life problems through volunteer and community service activities.
He was chair of a special committee on diversity in admissions and has assisted UGA’s undergraduate admissions committee in working for increased diversity as a way to improve the campus learning environment.
“Del has contributed significantly to all missions of the university, particularly through his leadership in increasing the quality of undergraduate education, in concert with research and public service and outreach,” said Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “His immense and diverse contributions have played a key role in the growth in reputation of UGA.”
UGA had about half as many students and faculty members as it does today when Dunn joined the faculty as an assistant professor shortly after receiving his doctorate in political science from the University of Wisconsin.
O.C. Aderhold was still president when he accepted the position, though Fred C. Davison became president later in the year. Vince Dooley was in his third year as football coach, and it had been only four years since the university’s first African-American students had received undergraduate degrees.
He said he accepted the job because he sensed UGA had the potential to be one of the nation’s best universities – an impression he believes has proven true. “This institution arguably has grown more in quality than any other institution in the country during this time,” Dunn said.
That advance, he said, stems in part from strong state support and the university’s “ability to react rapidly to change and willingness to be nimble and take risks.”
It’s also the result of strong leadership by Davison and the other three presidents under whom he’s served – Henry King Stanford, Charles Knapp and Adams – to make UGA a major national research institution, he said.
Dunn’s own research has focused on such areas as public administration, government and mass media, American elections and academic administration. One of his books deals with political and administrative leadership in Australia and was chosen by a branch of the International Political Science Association as the best book published in 1997 in the fields of public policy and administration.
Another book on financing presidential campaigns resulted from a year he spent as a research associate at The Brookings Institution, which published the book.
Dunn has been president of both the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Pi Alpha Alpha national honor society for public affairs and administration. He was also founding president of the Southern Consortium of University Public Service Organizations, and has been active in the American Society for Public Administration and both the American and Southern Political Science Associations.
Though much of his career has been in administration, Dunn never lost his fondness for teaching. A member of the UGA Teaching Academy, the Honors Program faculty and a Senior Teaching Fellow, he has taught at all levels, from introductory to advanced graduate courses.
He believes today’s UGA students are academically on par with students at many of the nation’s best flagship state universities, which wasn’t the case 40 years ago.
“Our students are more aware of the world beyond the state’s borders, more engaged in community service and more interested in political issues than they were when I started,” he said. “There’s more group study, more collaborative learning, more emphasis on grades. It’s wonderful to stand in front of a class with the caliber of students we have now.”
Over the years Dunn has been heavily involved in policy matters both at UGA and for the University System of Georgia. He was chair of a committee that studied tuition at research universities in the system and another work group that focused on faculty and staff development at system institutions. He also served on system task forces dealing with textbook pricing, graduation rates and general education assessment.
At UGA he has been chair or a member of more than 50 search committees, evaluation committees, advisory councils and other groups involved in faculty governance and personnel recruitment. He was chair of UGA committees that helped develop plans for the Gwinnett University Center and UGA’s criminal justice program, and he has coordinated the Harry S. Truman Foundation Scholarship Program at UGA since 1993.