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American University Names Vicky Wilkins as New Dean for School of Public Affairs

By Kelly Alexander

Vicky Wilkins

American University announced today the selection of Vicky Wilkins, Ph.D., as the next dean of the School of Public Affairs (SPA). Dr. Wilkins brings significant experience to the job. A nationally recognized scholar, highly regarded teacher, and experienced administrator, Dr. Wilkins came to American University in 2014 after holding faculty and administrative positions for over eleven years in the department of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia (UGA). She received several teaching awards while at UGA and is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in representative bureaucracy and street-level bureaucrats. Her appointment is effective immediately. 

“I am thrilled that Vicky Wilkins has been appointed dean of the School of Public Affairs,” said AU President Sylvia Burwell. “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,” Burwell added.

“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,” said AU Provost Scott Bass.

Under her tenure as graduate coordinator and director of the MPA program at UGA, enrollments increased 20 percent each year, merit awards for incoming and returning students doubled, and the program benefited from greater understanding of students’ experiences through several successful student engagement initiatives and a variety of unique curricular revisions.  

Most recently, 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 the school's faculty; supervised its graduate degree, executive, and certificate programs; and worked on fiscal administration, development, graduate admissions, communications and marketing, and facilities matters.  

“I am delighted and honored to be selected to lead the School of Public Affairs at American University, a School with a celebrated history and a bright future," said Dr. Wilkins. “I look forward to continuing to work with our outstanding University leadership team, SPA’s extraordinary faculty, talented staff, exceptional students, and distinguished alumni and supporters. American University and SPA are uniquely positioned to address the most challenging questions in public affairs through innovation, high-impact research, partnerships, and inclusion. I would also like to thank my family for their tremendous support during the selection process.”  

Dr. Wilkins earned her Ph.D. 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.