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Social Work Dean Michael Austin will leave the University for a teaching post at the University of California at Berkeley when his seven-year term ends next spring, Austin announced earlier this month. With Austin's resignation, Social Work joins 10 of the University's 12 schools -- besides the Veterinary and Education schools -- to have lost or changed a dean in the past two years. Austin said the move will allow him to continue his research and to be closer to his family in California. "This is the first opportunity in my academic career to combine my professional interests and academic interests with my family priorities," Austin said last week. "I have aging parents and a mother-in-law in that part of the country." Austin came to the University as Social Work dean six years ago from the University of Washington in Seattle. Since then, he has established a new doctoral program, three new certificate programs and five new dual degree programs in the school. "The thing I'm most pleased with is that we've increased the visibility of the school, not only on campus, but nationally," Austin said. "We have doubled student enrollment, we have doubled alumni giving and we have quadrupled the scholarly record of the school's faculty." President Sheldon Hackney said last week he also is pleased with the recognition Social Work has received during Austin's tenure, pointing to the increased enrollment in the school of students "whose credentials are stronger than ever." "He has developed a new mission and plan for the school," Hackney said. "He promoted a healthy growth in the school, both intellectually and financially." Hackney passed off the timing of Austin's resignation as "just coincidence," noting that the dean will have completed his full seven-year term. And former Social Work Dean Louise Shoemaker, who is currently a professor in the school, said last week Austin did a "workmanlike job." "He's a good administrator in terms of regularizing procedures, and the student body, especially the masters degree program, has grown," said Shoemaker, the Faculty Senate Chairperson. Provost Michael Aiken said last week he has not yet set up a search committee because it is too late in the year for a group to get started. Aiken plans to form a search committee as soon as classes start in the fall. The provost said he will instruct the committee to search for someone with the same qualities he looks for in any dean -- abilities to inspire research and scholarly excellence, attract high-caliber students and faculty members, and raise money for the school. Shoemaker said she would want "someone who expresses the social change agenda on the campus that the school stands for" and who would lead the school into interdisciplinary work with other parts of the University.

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