You are here: Memorandum


January 8, 2018

TO: The American University Community
FROM: Scott A. Bass, Provost
CC: Sylvia M. Burwell, President
SUBJECT: Dr. Vicky Wilkins, Dean, School of Public Affairs

Following a national search, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Vicky Wilkins has been selected as the new dean of the School of Public Affairs. Her appointment is effective immediately.

We are excited about this appointment. As President Burwell underscored, she is “…thrilled that Vicky Wilkins has been appointed dean of the School of Public Affairs. She is a strong and collaborative leader, thrives at developing creative and entrepreneurial high-quality approaches to education, research, and outreach, and is the right person to work with the school’s students, faculty, and staff to take the school to the next level.”

A nationally and internationally recognized scholar, highly regarded teacher, and experienced administrator, Dr. Wilkins came to American University in 2014 after holding faculty and administrative positions for eleven years in the department of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia. Under her tenure as graduate coordinator and director of the MPA program at UGA, enrollments increased significantly each year, merit awards for incoming and returning students doubled, and the program benefited from greater attention to students’ experiences through several successful student engagement initiatives and a variety of unique curricular revisions. In addition to these administrative accomplishments, Dr. Wilkins received several teaching awards while at UGA.

Dr. Wilkins’ administrative successes continued as SPA’s senior associate dean for academic affairs. In this capacity, she oversaw the activities and administrative needs of faculty; supervised its graduate degree, executive, and certificate programs; and worked on fiscal administration, development, graduate admissions, communications and marketing, and facilities matters. Her accomplishments in recruiting and retaining distinguished faculty, growing graduate enrollments, and formalizing valuable partnerships made Dr. Wilkins an ideal fit to serve as the interim dean of SPA this fall and now as its dean.

Dr. Wilkins maintains a strong vision for SPA as one of the nation’s leading institutions for its faculty expertise on critical issues in public affairs, educational programs, community orientation, translational focus, commitment to inclusiveness, and innovation. To achieve this vision, she has identified several goals, which include recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty; offering exceptional student-centered educational experiences; improving educational programs through continual change and innovation; soliciting and cultivating critical partnerships to increase SPA’s visibility and support; fostering authentic inclusion; and refining the school’s stories to better connect its transformative ideas with donors’ interests and priorities.

Dr. Wilkins earned her PhD in political science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She holds the faculty rank of professor of public administration and policy at AU. Nationally, she has served on the executive council of the Public Management Research Association, as chair for the public administration section of the American Political Science Association, and on several editorial boards. Her research in the field of representation—specifically, minorities, women, and policy outcomes—has made a substantial impact in the field of public administration and political science. She is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in representative bureaucracy and street-level bureaucrats.

I would like to thank the search committee—Eric Hershberg (Co-Chair), Bradley Hardy (Co-chair), Karen Baehler, Richard Bennett, Jennifer Forney, Claire Griggs, Jocelyn Johnston, and Jeffrey Rutenbeck—for its work on this competitive, national search.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Vicky Wilkins on her appointment as the next dean of the School of Public Affairs.