Chatham University's chief academic officer resigns

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Chatham University’s chief academic officer is resigning to take a job in Florida, officials confirmed today.

Wenying Xu, vice president for academic affairs who came to Chatham from Florida 21 months ago, is returning to that state to become provost at Jacksonville University, a private institution with 4,200 students, Chatham spokesman Bill Campbell said.

Her departure is effective early next month.

Ms. Xu’s resignation follows by one week a vote by Chatham trustees to admit men into the undergraduate women’s college. Her departure means a replacement will be needed to oversee the university-wide reorganization of academic programs set to occur as Chatham transitions to coed in fall 2015.

The departure also comes eight days after the Karol Dean, the women’s college dean, announced she will leave May 23 to become dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Mercy College in New York.

Ms. Xu could not immediately be reached for comment.

“She has a husband and a son who live in Florida, and she is moving down for an opportunity at a larger university and to be closer to her family,” Mr. Campbell said.

He said the departure is unrelated to the coed decision and that, in fact, Ms. Xu has supported it.

He said a search for a replacement will be undertaken and that an interim has not yet been selected. He said faculty have been involved with realignment discussions since last Thursday’s coed vote, and that Chatham President Esther Barazzone has expressed interest in being active in those deliberations.

Prior to joining Chatham in August 2012, Ms. Xu served as professor and chair of English and interim associate dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letter at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., according to Chatham.

Chatham University has nearly 2,200 students. It has admitted men as graduate students for decades, but its undergraduate college has enrolled only women since its founding 145 years ago.

Officials said the move from women’s only to coed was needed to reverse enrollment and financial losses and follows similar decisions by other women’s institutions. Nevertheless, a group of Chatham alumnae actively resisted the transition, saying Chatham had not adequately explored alternative ways to attract more women.

Bill Schackner:, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.

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