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Academic Affairs Realignment

Note: The Academic Affairs Realignment has been completed as of July 1, 2021. The information contained in this section of the website will remain available through August 31, 2021. Please contact if you have any questions about the transition.


American University Office of the Provost


AnnouncementMay 27, 2021

AU Community
Peter Starr, Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Advancing Lifelong and Experiential Learning at AU

Dear AU Community,

One of the priorities of AU’s Changemakers for a Changing World strategic plan is to dramatically increase AU’s capacity to deliver professional and lifelong learning opportunities to an expanding network of learners. This effort operates in conjunction with our strong dedication to the undergraduate student experience and a broad program to improve “how AU works.” We are writing today to share a strategic realignment that advances these important goals.

Earlier this year, AU decided to realign the School of Professional and Extended Studies (SPExS) and its constituent programs—Washington Semester (WSP), Gap Program, Mentorship, the English Language and Training Academy (ELTA), and Graduate Professional and Non-Credit Studies. Effective July 1, 2021, SPExS will cease its current operations and its programs will move within Academic Affairs as follows:

  • SPExS’ professional studies team will staff a new Professional and Lifelong Learning Innovation Lab under the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, with the mission of jumpstarting and incentivizing professional learning initiatives across AU’s schools and colleges.
  • The Washington Semester Program, Gap, and ELTA will join the International Accelerator programs and AU Abroad in a new Office of Global and Immersive Studies. The office will be headed by a new vice provost, for whom a search is currently underway.
  • The Mentorship program for incoming undergraduate students is now known as the AU Cornerstone program. Housed in the Office of Undergraduate Education and Academic Student Services, Cornerstone will become accessible to a more diverse array of incoming students, benefit from greater alignment with existing learning communities, and allow us to further foreground AU’s reputation for experiential learning in the admission process. You can learn more about AU Cornerstone here.

This Academic Affairs realignment provides AU improved opportunities to realize the strong long-term potential of each of these programs and continue offering our students outstanding educational opportunities. All staff and faculty impacted by these changes were briefed in March 2021. We will share additional updates with current SPExS degree-seeking students in the near future.

While change can be difficult, we are confident that sunsetting the current SPExS organization will facilitate the continued growth and success of all realigned programs in their new homes. We thank the dedicated faculty and staff community that have worked so tirelessly to build, maintain, and enhance SPExS’ many programs and to set them up for success under this new model.

For more information and details, please visit the Provost Office’s Academic Affairs Realignment web pages. And please feel free to direct any comments or questions you might have about this realignment to

All the best,

Peter Starr
Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer


Steering Committee Members
Peter Starr, Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer (Chair)
Matthew Bennett, Vice President of Communication
Wendy Boland, Dean, Graduate Studies
Gihan Fernando, Executive Director, Career Center
Geralynn Franceschini, Executive Director of Strategic Implementation
Monica Jackson, Interim Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty
Jill Klein, Interim Dean, School of Professional and Extended Studies
Beth Muha, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources
Prita Patel, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Administration
Sandra Rodriguez, Senior Public Relations Manager, University Communications and Marketing
Jessica Waters, Dean of Undergraduate Education & Vice Provost for Academic Student Services