Home Graphic novel CTY chief fired after last-minute program cancellations

CTY chief fired after last-minute program cancellations

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The director of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth resigned on Thursday, less than a week after hundreds of families received last-minute cancellation notices and after days of upheaval that tarnished the program’s reputation by 43 year.

Johns Hopkins University Provost Sunil Kumar announced that Stephen Gange, professor and executive vice-rector for academic affairs, would take over as acting executive director of the struggling program. Calling Gange a “trusted leader”, he said he “has played a key role in helping JHU organize a safe and healthy return to campus for our students during the pandemic and is the proud parent of a former student of CTY”.

Kumar promised a review of the decisions that precipitated the partial collapse of the program, with “a full report to the university administration”, while promising that on-site instructors and staff members affected by the cancellations will receive their full salary. Retention bonuses will be developed for on-site staff and instructors, he said, and an operational support team for CTY programs will be put in place.

Jill Rosen, a spokeswoman for the university, would not say whether former executive director Virginia Roach was still employed by the school in any other capacity. The university does not comment on personnel matters, she said.

Throughout the turmoil, CTY officials had blamed problems on staffing shortages — a national issue — and on Sunday apologized to families who had packed up and planned their summers around college sessions, many of whom were residential and installed in colleges across the country.

The cancellations were so late that some students were on their way to – or had arrived – from other parts of the country and the world.

A total of 1,784 students have been affected by program cancellations for the two sessions of the CTY programs, which claim alumni including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and pop superstar Lady Gaga , officials said. That number represents about a third of the total, with some 3,500 students still participating in in-person programs, according to the university.

Johns Hopkins program canceled as some students are on their way

Kumar acknowledged that the decision to cancel and its last-minute nature “resulted in many disappointed students and significantly inconvenienced families.” Families were notified around 3:30 p.m. last Friday, for a program that began Sunday morning.

“In its first summer of in-person programming since the pandemic began, it’s clear to us that CTY has failed to meet Johns Hopkins University standards,” Kumar said.

For parents, including Mason Kalfus, who had enrolled his son in a $5,200 residential philosophy program, the need for leadership change was indisputable.

“I can’t imagine someone who had such a monumental failure would retain the same leadership,” he said. But Kalfus also said the university has repeatedly pointed to the national labor shortage — which clearly isn’t all. “It’s mind-boggling to me that they fell so surprisingly short of what they needed,” he said. “Someone was sleeping at the wheel.”

Sunny Chanel, whose 16-year-old daughter was flying to the program when she received an email saying it was cancelled, said she hoped the decision would bode well for the future of CTY.

“This change, with someone who knows the program, is good,” said Chanel, who lives in San Francisco. “It’s such a wonderful program, and it’s helped so many kids. Hopefully that will be the key to getting them back on track and back to where they were before.

Since the weekend, parents have been sharing stories of disappointment and disbelief, some of them posted on a Facebook page with more than 500 members called “CTY screwed us 2022.”

Some instructors and staff have also posted about the discouraging confusion and other issues in this year’s program. Teachers are paid $2,500 for a three-week session plus room and board, and assistants receive $1,600 plus room and board, officials said.

Students must test in the CTY programs, which are a mix of online, commuter and residential sessions for students in grades two through 12. Programs have been canceled through a variety of subjects, including biotechnology, poetry, ethics, psychology, genetics, neuroscience, engineering, graphic novel, and zoology.

Roach, the leader who was replaced, became executive director of the program in 2020. Hopkins described her as having “a terrific track record as a nonprofit leader and higher education administrator.” From 2015 to 2020, she served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University. Earlier in her career, she was a professor of education and department chair at George Washington University.