Executive Director

Scott Bass Professor and Provost Emeritus SPA | Public Administration

Dr. Scott A. Bass is Provost Emeritus and Professor of Public Administration and Policy in the School of Public Affairs at American University (AU). Since his arrival at AU in 2008, Dr. Bass has focus


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Director of Operations


Sharon AlstonDr. Sharon Alston is the former Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment at American University. In this capacity she played a key role in the strategic planning efforts for undergraduate, first year, transfer, and international student recruitment and provided leadership and vision for the units of Admissions, Financial Aid, Operations, Analytics, and Marketing and Communication.

Dr. Alston built a reputation as an effective leader with a career that has spanned more then 40 years. She has held enrollment positions at the University of Maryland at College Park, The Johns Hopkins University, Haverford College and Dickinson College. Immediately prior to joining the American University Community in 2000, Dr. Alston served as Director of College Counseling at The Bullis School in Potomac, MD. She has also been active professionally, holding leadership positions with The College Board, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling, The Common Application, and the Enrollment Planning Network. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School (Bronx, NY).

Best known as someone who builds strong teams, during her 22-year tenure Dr. Alston and her team more than doubled the number of applications, increased AU’s racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, increased selectivity, and instituted a number of initiatives to bring prominence to the university.

Dr. Alston earned her BA in Psychology at Franklin and Marshal College, her M. Ed. in Urban Education at Temple University, and her Ph.D. in Education Policy, Planning, and Administration at the University of Maryland.

Cindy Bair Van DamCindy Bair Van Dam is a compositionist who joined the Department of Literature faculty in 1995. She earned an MA from American University and a BA from the University of Nebraska. Before coming to AU, she taught in the English Department at Howard University. Her research interests include liberal education, composition pedagogy, critical information literacy, anti-racist pedagogies, and contingent faculty issues. From 2015-2022, Cindy led American University’s campus through the reimagination of their general education program and subsequent implementation of what is now known as the AU Core. In recognition of her leadership while developing the AU Core, Cindy was honored with the Milton and Sonia Greenberg Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award and an award for Outstanding Service to the University in a Term Appointment. She also won the University Honors Program's Outstanding Professor Award 2003-2004. When she's not working, she's reading contemporary fiction or Austen.

Jessica WatersJessica L. Waters, J.D., is a faculty member in the School of Public Affairs at American University, and the Director (beginning August 2023) of the School of Public Affairs Leadership Program.

Waters previously served as Dean of Undergraduate Education and Vice Provost for Academic Student Services at American University (2016-2023). In that role, Waters led multiple university-wide reforms and initiatives, including the university’s most significant reform of their general education program in 25 years; the launch of a new first-year advising program; a reorganization of the Academic Support and Access Center; and the launch of a new university-wide Honors Program. Under her leadership, AU’s first-year experience was recognized as one of the best in the nation. In her seven-year tenure, her team grew from 13 people to 80 people.

Waters previously served as Associate Dean of the School of Public Affairs from 2014-2016, and as the inaugural director of the Politics, Policy and Law Scholars Program. Prior to joining the AU faculty, she was a litigator at WilmerHale, where she specialized in criminal defense litigation, internal investigations, and reproductive rights litigation and advocacy. Waters clerked for the Honorable Emmet Sullivan on the federal D.C. District Court.

Waters’ research focuses primarily on reproductive rights law and policy. Her work has been published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, the American University Journal of GenderSocial Policy and the Law, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, and the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She is a regular commentator for national news programs and publications and gave a 2016 TedX talk focused on reproductive rights.