ARTS & SCIENCES DEAN AT WESTERN NAMED                                                                                       
Image: Robert Vartabedian
Robert Vartabedian

CULLOWHEE – Robert Vartabedian, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Carolina University since July 1, 1999, is leaving Western to accept the position of vice president for academic affairs at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M.

The appointment at ENMU is effective July 1, and Vartabedian will remain in his post at Western Carolina through May 31, said Western Provost Kyle Carter, who will meet with faculty in the coming weeks to discuss the process for finding Vartabedian's replacement.

“This is a great opportunity and a major career move for Bob Vartabedian,” Carter said. “He has served ably and admirably as the dean of Western's largest undergraduate college. Under his leadership, the College of Arts and Sciences has added several new academic programs that have been a major component in Western's recent surge in student enrollment.”

Vartabedian also has played a significant role in planning and developing Western's new Fine and Performing Arts Center, a $30 million showcase for the arts. The 122,000-square-foot facility includes classrooms, studios, galleries and support space for students majoring in the arts and humanities, and a 1,000-seat hall for Broadway-quality music and theatrical performances. The art wing of the building is now occupied, and the performance section of the building is expected to be ready for occupancy by fall semester.

“For Bob's sake, I only wish the timing were a little better,” Carter said. “I know that he would like to see the Fine and Performing Arts Center through to its completion, but he received an offer that he can't refuse. We wish him well, and we will see that the building and the programming in it lives up to the standards he has set.”

In accepting the appointment, Vartabedian and wife Laurel, a member of the faculty in the department of communication, theatre and dance, will be returning to roots in the American Southwest.

 “The vice president position at Eastern New Mexico University will provide me with some interesting challenges and opportunities, and will allow us to be much closer to most of our extended family members,” said Vartabedian, who came to Western after 11 years at West Texas A&M University near Amarillo.

“I have experienced a very exciting six years at Western, unlike anything in my previous 25 years in higher education,” he said. “Believe me, it is very difficult to leave such a vibrant campus with so many dedicated people.”

ENMU has a student enrollment of about 4,000, with a main campus of more than 400 acres located in Portales on the extreme eastern side of the state, about halfway between the northern and southern boundaries and 120 miles southwest of Amarillo. The university also has branch campuses in Roswell, with more than 4,000 students, and Ruidoso, with about 1,000 students. Vartabedian will be based at the regional comprehensive university campus in Portales, and will oversee the two other campuses in the absence of the university president.

“We are extremely pleased to have attracted someone the caliber of Dr. Vartabedian,” said Steven Gamble, ENMU president. “With his years of experience in a variety of academic responsibilities, we feel that he is a great fit to continue and enhance Eastern's innovative and progressive approach to education.”

Vartabedian's 11-year stint at West Texas A&M included five years as head of the university's department of art, communication and theater. He also served previously as a faculty member and administrator at Wichita State University in Kansas, and taught at East Central Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, and California State University.

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Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University