Robert Pastor – the American University professor whose writings have championed the creation of a North American Community – has resigned his position in the school’s Office of International Affairs amid a reorganization that has dismantled many of his key programs.
Pastor confirmed to WND he began a one-year sabbatical Jan. 1 at American University and plans this year to work on three new books, including one on North America. He also is working with The Elders, the conflict-resolution group of world figures, including Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter.
Pastor explained in an e-mail he has stepped down as vice president of international affairs at the university and as director of the Center for North American Studies in the Office of International Affairs, a program he has headed since he began at American University in 2002.
“This reflects no change in my focus,” Pastor insisted, “just a sabbatical to devote more time to research and writing.”
WND confirmed, however, that university President Neil Kerwin has decided to shut down Pastor’s Office of International Affairs.
The university’s student newspaper, The Eagle, reported last week that Pastor had resigned his post in the Office of International Affairs following a decision by Kerwin to dismantle the department.
“Now that Kerwin has become permanent university president, he wants to change the international program to meet a new strategic focus,” Eagle writer Jimm Phillips told WND.
WND contacted Kerwin’s office to inquire about the ultimate status of Pastor’s international programs after the break-up of the Office of International Affairs but received no return phone call before publication time.
Pastor explained his sabbatical to the Eagle.
“With the dismantling of the Office of International Affairs, there is, of course, no need for a vice president,” Pastor told the campus paper. “President Kerwin and I both agreed that it would be helpful if I would remain until the end of the year to assure that the transition is smooth and the movement of OIA units to other parts of the campus is done properly and effectively and in a manner that could permit them to become even stronger.”
Pastor admitted to the Eagle the move disappointed him.
“I personally believe that American University had set a gold standard in designing a cabinet-level position to give priority to these international programs,” he said. “So, therefore, I am disappointed that the office will now be dismantled.”
Pastor told WND he planned to remain at American University after the sabbatical.
He said he has begun working as interim co-director of The Elders, a group of 13 world figures, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter.
“I have been responsible for directing the Elders’ work on conflict-resolution, with a special focus on Sudan and the Middle East with the help of some very talented and dedicated people,” Pastor said. “I will continue directing this work for the next few months.”
The Elders website explains the rationale for the group: “We are moving to a global village and yet we don’t have our global elders. The Elders can be a group who have the trust of the world, who can speak freely, be fiercely independent and respond fast and flexibly in conflict situations.”
Kerwin took over the presidency of American University on an interim basis following the dismissal of Benjamin Ladner, who was suspended in August 2005 by the university’s board in a scandal looking into his alleged misuse of university funds in personal and travel expenses.
Kerwin’s status was made permanent Sept. 1, becoming the school’s 14th president.
In his interview with the university newspaper, Pastor admitted the controversy surrounding Ladner had been detrimental to his plans in 2005 to establish an American-style university in China.
“These issues came to a head shortly after the resignation of Dr. Ladner,” Pastor told the Eagle, “and given the uncertainty within the university, after consultation with cabinet and faculty, [Kerwin] decided that AU should not go forward.”
On Oct. 24, 2005, Ladner agreed to a $3.75 million departure package from American University in a deal that allowed him to resign rather than be fired. Ladner’s request for a $6 million termination package had been rejected by the university board, which voted to fire him “for cause” if he did not accept the lower offer.
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