The embattled dean of the University of Utah’s architecture school resigned Thursday.
“I am very proud of the tremendous record of progress made in the college during my 11-year tenure,” said Brenda Scheer, who will step down on Dec. 31, in a statement.
Scheer was widely blamed for what was seen as the forced resignation of popular architecture chairman Prescott Muir in late February. After students and faculty called for an investigation of his departure, Scheer apologized, and Muir agreed to stay on.
“I regret that I acted hastily, without full information and without full consideration of [those] views …” Scheer said in a statement earlier this month, though she maintained Muir’s resignation wasn’t forced. “I am sure that there would have been a far different outcome had I been more inclusive.”
On Thursday afternoon, the U. announced Scheer will take a yearlong sabbatical to write a book, then return to the college as a full-time professor.
“In the next few months I have the goal of moving our proposed building addition forward, instituting new procedures for assessment of programs and student learning ... as well as facilitating a smooth transition to a new dean,” she said in her statement.
U. officials didn’t immediately name a replacement or detail a process for finding a new dean.
“I want to thank Brenda for her leadership and commitment to sustainability and encouraging student engagement with important issues in the community,” said President David Pershing in a statement, calling the College of Architecture and Planning a “model” for “student success efforts.”
Graduate student Jane Collette said she was glad to see a change in leadership.
“I’m happy the administration took the problem so seriously and acted quickly to solve it,” she said. “I think the problems were serious enough that this was the inevitable result.”
Scheer announced her departure “with some regret and lots of anticipation” in an email to students.
Her return to the classroom could be a good development for students, said graduate student Aric Farnsworth, who said Scheer had a solid reputation as a teacher.
“For her to interact with students the way she used to would probably be good for everyone’s perspective toward her,” he said, adding that he hopes the next dean will be “involved in our education, interested in what’s best for us and open to our feedback.”
Scheer came to the school after a career as an architect and professor in Cincinnati. A subsequent 2007 accreditation report praised the choice of a female dean and the hiring of four female professors for adding needed diversity to the school, as well as her community involvement.
Scheer brought national recognition to the U.’s City and Metropolitan Planning program, where she introduced a master’s degree and a doctorate, and several other programs at the college, according to the U. statement.
The architecture school, though, had “a lot of problems” that surfaced during a February accreditation visit, Scheer previously told The Salt LakeTribune. She said Muir’s resignation came after she drew his attention to those issues, some of which centered around governance and communication.
Muir’s predecessor, Patrick Tripeny, told the Tribune his departure under Scheer was “not by choice.”
Muir, hired as chairman of the School of Architecture in 2009, is also a prominent Utah architect. He designed the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, the Ethel Wattis Kimball Visual Arts Center at Weber State University, the Stag Lodge at Deer Valley and Swaner Nature Preserve Education Center in Park City.