Prof. resigns suddenly as center director

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies resigned abruptly from his post Monday. James Green, an associate professor of history credited with raising the center’s profile significantly since taking its helm in 2005, did not indicate a reason for the sudden departure.

David Lindstrom, associate dean of the graduate school and a former director of CLACS, has assumed Green’s responsibilities on an interim basis. Faculty and administrators said yesterday they hope to find a permanent replacement by January.

Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P’07 and Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98 will select a new director from within the University after consulting with affiliated faculty.

Green notified CLACS faculty and the University of his decision by e-mail Friday. He did not resign his faculty position.

Vohra said he was in the dark as to why the successful director, who was reappointed to a second three-year term in June, had quit. Green declined to comment on his motivations Tuesday, as did other CLACS faculty members.

The center has added faculty, expanded programs and broadened its scope since 2005, when Green took over as director. In 2006, it earned a prestigious Title VI grant from the Department of Education, a milestone of recognition for area studies programs. CLACS faculty contacted yesterday said the center took significant strides forward under his leadership.

In a statement e-mailed to The Herald, Green said he has “enjoyed” his time at the center and that the Title VI grant he helped secure “allowed us to expand and enrich significantly Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown.”

“As new faculty members take up the leadership of the Center, I am confident they will continue to build on the ways in which I have personally been able to contribute to the success of the Center,” he wrote.

In a conversation Tuesday, Green declined to elaborate on the reasons for his decision or its unusual abruptness, but said he had no plans to resign from the faculty. “I love teaching,” he said. “I’m looking forward to teaching my classes in the spring.”

“I’m sure the University will continue all the projects I’ve initiated” at the center, he said, adding, “I’ve been very proud of what I’ve achieved.”

Vohra said Green “mentioned no reasons” for his surprise resignation. “I assumed that if this is a decision he’s made, we will have to respect his decision,” Vohra said.

While both Green and Lindstrom stressed that the three years Green has served are a standard tenure for leadership of a center like CLACS, Vohra noted that when Green was reappointed for another three years in June, he did so intending to serve the full term. Green confirmed his prior intentions to remain long-term on Tuesday.

“He had done a very good job,” Vohra said. “I was very happy to ask him to continue.”

Lindstrom, who previously served as CLACS director from 2001 to 2004, said he was surprised to learn of Green’s departure, and would be taking on the responsibilities as director on top of a full administrative and teaching workload.

The added responsibility “means my long days are now even longer,” Lindstrom said, but he and Green said that the center’s programs for this semester have already been planned and that the surprise turnover should not threaten its ability to function in the short term.

“While the departure of Professor Green is very sudden, centers experience changes in leadership all the time,” Lindstrom said.

Lindstrom said he plans to serve through the end of the semester, by which time he expects a permanent replacement to be found. He does not believe the abruptness of Green’s resignation will hinder his successors’ ability to build on the center’s recent growth, he added.

Vohra did not commit to a timeline for replacing Green but said he hoped a permanent director could be found by next semester. It is unusual for a post like Green’s to be vacated in the middle of an academic year, Vohra said, much less a semester, which might make it challenging to find a faculty member willing to take on the added responsibilities mid-year.

“I was sorry to see Professor Green step down as director as I thought he has been doing an excellent job,” Kertzer wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

“I think he did great things for the center,” Associate Professor of History Douglas Cope said, calling Green “an extremely energetic leader” and noting that he “made great strides” in expanding the center’s Caribbean focus.

“He really helped to put (CLACS) on the map,” said Cope, the center’s concentration adviser. “The challenge now will be to sustain the progress.”