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Dean of SPEA to step down, return to faculty


John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, will step down and return to faculty at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. He served as dean of SPEA for the last 10 years.  IDS file photo Buy Photos

In May, School of Public and Environmental Affairs dean John D. Graham thought he would continue deanship for two or three more years. Graham's plan quickly changed when he received news of the birth of his second granddaughter, Isabella. 

Graham will step down and return to faculty after the 2018-2019 academic year.

Graham has served as dean of SPEA for the last 10 years. Since his hire in 2008, both rankings and enrollment at the school have increased. Since 2016, SPEA’s Master of Public Affairs has been ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report, among several other highly ranked programs.

During his deanship, faculty research publishing has almost doubled and student involvement in overseas study has tripled, according to the SPEA website.

Both of his granddaughters now live in California, and Graham wanted to ensure he could set aside adequate time to spend with them. 

“When you are a professor, it’s easier to get your schedule set up so you can do the long weekends and spend a large chunk of the summer out there,” Graham said. “But as dean, I really have to be around or traveling to see donors and alumni."

In his last year, Graham intends to focus on planning the Environmental Protection Agency’s 50th anniversary celebration. The celebration will occur the same time as IU's Bicentennial celebration.

Events will be organized both on campus and in Washington, D.C., Graham said.

Graham cited the establishment of the Paul H. O’Neill Graduate Center as his proudest accomplishment.

“The O'Neill Center allowed us to have a separate space for our graduate students, master's students and doctoral students,” Graham said. “Their operations and their classes are in the O’Neill Center. Now we are in the process of renovating a building for our undergraduate students."

Graham will begin transitioning into his professor position this fall. He is teaching an undergraduate course on national policy.  He’ll have 80 students and will be team-teaching with a doctoral student.

He hopes his successor will take interest in overseas study for all undergraduates. 

“When I came, we had 10 percent of our undergrads at SPEA who graduated with an overseas study experience," Graham said. "Now we are up to 40 percent. I keep thinking if we get to 50, we can require it." 

Associate professor Sanya Carley attributes many significant accomplishments to Graham’s work over the past 10 years.

“He significantly expanded the faculty and brought in lots of new talent," Carley said. "He has expanded academic program offerings, such as the new healthcare management degree, among many other programs. He’s also increased student numbers significantly and at the same time increased rankings."

Distinguished Professor Ron Hites said he admires Graham for his devotion to scholarship. Hites said Graham is a true and persistent promoter of research, publications and external funding. 

He explained that all of these components are used to academically strengthen a school and its reputation. That’s why Graham’s passion for these areas is so important.

“I’ve been here long enough to have interacted with four deans, and he's been by far the best," Hites said. "I hope the new dean continues with what John has been doing and continues to emphasize scholarship."

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