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Archive for Monday, April 6, 1992

COMPUTER CHAIR AT KU RESIGNS

April 6, 1992

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Conflict in the computer science department at Kansas University has led to the resignation of the department's chairman, KU officials said today.

William Bulgren, chair since 1985, said in his resignation letter that chances of resolving dissension in the department might improve with his departure.

"I've attempted to resolve some of the problems with the department since January," Bulgren said. "It became obvious that . . . couldn't be accomplished by me."

"Problems of dissension are still within the department. It will still take one to two years to resolve them," he said.

Bulgren will remain on the faculty after the selection of a new chair by James Muyskens, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Muyskens accepted Bulgren's resignation on Friday. Bulgren said he wasn't asked to resign.

"I'm confident that it will help things settle down," said Del Shankel, executive vice chancellor at KU. "It's important that the department have some strong and effective leadership."

After interviewing current and former computer science faculty, students and KU officials, the Journal-World published a story in November that detailed how discord in the department had impaired research and teaching there.

IN FEBRUARY, the J-W revealed that a confidential consultant's study recommended elimination of the department if faculty disputes and academic deficiencies couldn't be corrected.

In a set of recommendations, the consultants said the department's chief rivals Bulgren and Zamir Bavel, professor of computer science should be separated.

"Whatever he feels about me or I feel about him has nothing to do with the problems with the department," Bavel said.

Muyskens has started to implement a plan to turn the department around. Bulgren's resignation was part of the reform process, Muyskens said.

"He and I had a number of discussions, and it is part of the process," he said. "It was one of the steps we needed to take. I believe Bill, in making this decision, was looking at the best interest of the department."

Bavel said Bulgren should have left the chairmanship years ago. Bavel has repeatedly called for Bulgren's resignation.

SHANKEL SAID KU faculty and students need a good computer science program.

"To be a modern comprehensive university, we ought to maintain a strong program there," he said.

However, he said, the program could be configured in a different way in the future.

Bulgren said he was proud of his accomplishments as chairman and positive about the department's future.

"I believe the dean has a handle on this," he said. "I have a great deal of optimism."

Bavel didn't share that optimism about the department's future.

"I think it is too late. There is almost nothing left of what used to be a very, very good department," Bavel said.

"I don't envy the dean, the job he has to do," he said. "It must be extremely difficult."

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