Boise State’s School of Public Service (SPS) established in 2015 and has produced countless political science, criminal justice and other public service graduates. Since the establishment of SPS, Corey Cook served as the Dean of SPS and worked to ensure students were prepared to serve the public.
“In the time that I was there, we took on a pretty substantial revisit of environmental studies, we adopted new programs in urban studies and Global Studies, we produced significant growth and evolution in our master’s programs,” Cook said. “I would say that the majority of my time was spent working with faculty on academic programming, fundraising and working externally with elected officials, administrators and folks throughout the state.”
In July 2019, Cook stepped down from the position and relocated to St. Mary’s College in California, leaving the dean position vacant. Cook says he is very pleased with the work he did within the school, especially considering the school was brand new when he stepped in.
“I didn’t step down because I didn’t love the job. I stepped down because I think there needs to be more turnover in higher education,” Cook said. “ I think a lot about how leadership in higher education isn’t for everybody, but you’ve got to create opportunities for people who exhibit leadership ability and can really move into associate dean’s and chair positions.”
Cook believes the leadership within SPS is incredible, but felt the best way to bring the potential in the program to the surface was to move out of the way.
“To me, it was really a difficult decision because I love Boise State and I really love the work,” Cook said. “But it was the right time. As a founding dean, you get out of the way and folks can take a fresh look at what you’ve worked on and make corrections, fix things and have a new perspective on things that you might have been blind to.”
There was only one person that Cook felt would be able to continue improvements within SPS. Interim Dean of SPS Andrew Giacomazzi stepped into the position shortly after Cook’s resignation. Giacomazzi first joined SPS as the associate dean and worked very closely with students and faculty, an attribute he feels prepared him to take over as dean.
Although Giacomazzi currently holds the interim position, moving into a more permanent dean role is something he is unsure of.
“That opportunity is there for me if I want to do that, but for now, my job is to continue the great work that is going on in the school and to tell our stories, both internally and externally, about what our students are doing, what our faculty are doing and all the creative and innovative things that are going on at the school,” Giacomazzi said.
Giacomazzi explained the Dean position is not an average 9-5 job. He knew that coming into the position would come with big shoes to fill after Cook, and is not interested in only doing the bare minimum in the interim period.
“We have so much momentum here in the school and we’re providing students with so many good things going in our community research initiatives,” Giacomazzi said. “I didn’t want to be one of these interim deans who just says, ‘Okay, let’s wait for a new dean to come and just kind of do the status quo’. We’re moving forward as if I were not in an interim position, but rather in a dean’s position, kind of making more of a seamless transition.”
Rex Bartlett, a senior political science and communications double major, feels that Giacomazzi is doing a fine job in the interim position but also notices improvements that could be made within SPS.
“They do a good job for the most part,” Bartlett said. “I think that they try and help out students but they can be hard to identify with, and they don’t push study abroad like they should.”
Bartlett explained the ideal dean of SPS should be able to identify with Boise State students and have relevant experience in order to better assist the school.
“I think they ought to be personable and know Boise State and its students,” Bartlett said. “We’ve had a lot of in and out. We really need to develop from within and not hire out.”