By Todd Cohen
RALEIGH, N.C. — Barbara Metelsky, director of the Institute for Nonprofits at N.C. State University, is leaving under pressure from the new dean of the university’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, according to people familiar with the situation.
Colleagues say Metelsky told them she has decided to resign after Dean Toby Parcel told Metelsky she could not continue serving as director because she lacked a doctoral degree, but that she could remain as the Institute’s fundraising officer.
Metelsky has decided not to stay on as the fundraising officer, say her colleagues, who asked not to be identified.
Metelsky declined through a spokesman to comment, and Parcel did not return phone messages.
Metelsky reportedly made her decision after meeting with faculty members who themselves had met with Parcel and urged the dean not to remove Metelsky.
Parcel, who became dean on August 1, reportedly told those faculty members that Metelsky’s job was non-tenured, that she served at the dean’s pleasure, and that any decision on her status was not a matter for the faculty, Metelsky’s colleagues say.
Nonprofit leaders say Metelsky, who joined the Institute in August 2003 as its first director, has built interdisciplinary ties among faculty while connecting faculty, students and academic research with the nonprofit world.
“We’re very saddened by the change in leadership at the Institute for Nonprofits,” says Trisha Lester, vice president of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. “Barbara Metelsky’s first-hand experience as a practitioner has been invaluable in her leadership of the Institute.”
Metelsky “has been a wonderful colleague and partner on several initiatives with the Center,” Lester says. “And we hope that, for the sake of nonprofits, the original vision for the Institute for Nonprofits is kept. And one of those visions is to have a true and genuine partnership with the sector, and that is one of the many things that Barbara has done beautifully.”
Allen Reep, development director for The Healing Place of Wake County, says the Institute in its first three years “has made great inroads in bridging the gap between the academic world and the real world of nonprofits.”
Local, regional and statewide nonprofits “have worked with Barbara to help train students and make faculty aware of what we’re experiencing,” says Reep, who at Metelsky’s invitation has helped interview candidates for faculty positions associated with the Institute.
And the Institute has “forged interdisciplinary networks with the university, as well as helping nonprofits throughout the state,” he says.
“It’s regrettable that the university is losing someone so committed to bringing North Carolina to the forefront of nonprofit administration,” Reep says.
Shirley Robinson, director of development for the N.C. Rural Center, says she also has appreciated the opportunity to meet faculty candidates and “see the interface” between academic research and the nonprofit sector.
“We’re out in the trenches and we’re not aligned with each other,” she says.
Bridging that gap is “one of the strengths the Institute has brought under Barbara’s leadership,” says Robinson, who with Metelsky was a North Carolina delegate to the recent national Nonprofit Congress. “She’s done a great job.”
Former director of the Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute at Seton Hall University, Metelsky was hired by Linda Brady, Parcel’s predecessor as dean.
Metelsky has spearheaded efforts at N.C. State to introduce undergraduate nonprofit studies; expand a graduate certificate program in nonprofit management; develop a master’s program with a focus on nonprofit leadership; undertake research focused on the needs of nonprofits in the state; recruit faculty with expertise in nonprofits; and develop partnerships with nonprofits.
This fall, in a collaboration spearheaded by the Institute, N.C. State became the first institution to become a partner with the National Center for Charitable Statistics in a new initiative to make its data available to scholars and other researchers.
“Barbara Metelsky has done a really good job in growing the Institute,” says Barbara Goodmon, who is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and spearheaded creation of the Institute. “The A.J. Fletcher Foundation hopes its success continues.”
The Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal, is supporting the Institute with $1 million over four years.