Did SMU Engineer Dean's Ouster?

We got a missive yesterday from an SMU computer engineering student--one of many on the Hilltop upset with the resignation of "ousted advisor Leo Pucacco," as he was referred to in yesterday's Daily Campus. Seems there's quite a dispute going on over the departure of Pucacco, who's the assistant dean for undergraduate studies in the SMU School of Engineering and a freshman advisor. Either he left willingly, because of disagreements he had with School of Engineering Dean Geoffrey Orsak over the way the department was being run and restructured, or he was forced out. The more than 100 students who rallied last week outside the Blanton Building tend to think it's the latter.

One of the protestors, computer engineering student Kyle Parks, spoke for 20 minutes the other day about Pucacco; during the rally, he also read a letter from the prof in which Pucacco suggested he'd been pushed out. Parks sent Unfair Park a missive that reads, in part:

"Dr. Pucacco has been forced out do to a reorganization plan that our Dean has put is going to put in place. The students of the Engineering Department have put a petition together asking that the University launch an official investigation into Dr. Pucacco's subsequent departure. Dr. Pucacco has almost 30 years with us and has accumulated more then 37 different advising and teaching awards as well as the M award. He has been Dean of the very school that is forcing him out. He stepped down from that position so that he could be back working directly with the students. I am asking some to report on this matter because SMU is truly losing one of its greatest assets."

Ironically, just one week ago today, the student newspaper ran a lengthy, flattering piece on Pucacco, portraying him as the world's biggest Star Trek fan. ("Two walls are covered in more than 65 pictures with captions, and he has a shelf with more than 50 Star Trek figurines, another eight figurines tacked on a wall, and a drawer full of extra figurines in case any go missing.") No wonder he ended his note to the rallying students with the salutation: "Live long and prosper." --Robert Wilonsky


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