Office of the Dean

College of Professional Studies


Ali Eskandarian, PhD
Dean, College of Professional Studies & Virginia Science and Technology Campus

Dr. Ali Eskandarian, a theoretical physicist, is the Dean of The George Washington University College of Professional Studies & Virginia Science and Technology Campus. Dean Eskandarian began his career at GW in 2002 as an associate dean and one of the founding members of the team that launched GW’s College of Professional Studies (CPS). Thereafter, he served as the Senior Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Research at CPS, where he led the design and development of several innovative certificates and Master’s degree programs. In addition to his role as Dean, he also holds faculty appointments as Professor at CPS and at the Department of Physics.

Prior to his arrival at GW, he held the Distinguished Oliver Professorship in the Integrated Science & Technology and Computer Science Departments at the James Madison University and led the program in Telecommunications, where he also held the title of Virginia Eminent Scholar. In the mid 1990s, Dr. Eskandarian was the Study Director for the “Reusable Launch Vehicles: Technology Development and Test Program” study at the National Research Council, which led to important recommendations regarding the future technological options and the nation’s space policy. He subsequently served as an advisor to the Army Research Laboratory’s Technology Assessment Board. Earlier in the 1990s, after having completed a post–doctoral position at Flinders University of South Australia in theoretical nuclear physics, Dr. Eskandarian joined the aerospace industry and worked on the scientific satellites being developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for several space missions.

Dr. Eskandarian’s current research interests at GW are focused in astrophysics and in quantum computing/information. He has been a founding member of both groups, and currently serves as co–director of the Center for Quantum Computing, Information, Logic, and Topology. Dr. Eskandarian holds a B.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics, both from GW.   

Lara Brown, PhD

Lara M. Brown, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate School of Political Management

Brown is dedicated to enhancing GSPM's reputation as the first and foremost professional school of applied politics, communications, and advocacy. The school provides students the tools and techniques they need to master politics and communications in order to bring about the changes they wish to see in our society and around the world.

A distinguished writer, Dr. Brown is the author of Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants (Cambria Press, 2010), the first systematic study of presidential aspirants from the 1790s through 2008. She co-edited and contributed to a book, entitled: The Presidential Leadership Dilemma: Between the Constitution and a Political Party (SUNY Press, 2013). Dr. Brown has also authored several book chapters in edited volumes and articles in peer-reviewed journals, such as Congress and the PresidencyPresidential Studies Quarterly, and American Politics Research.  

Brown's broader research interests include national elections, presidential aspirants, congressional incumbents, American political parties, and political scandals. She serves on the Board of Advisors of The New Agenda, a "pro-woman" organization devoted to empowering women and improving the lives of girls.

She is a frequent presence in the media, appearing on dozens of television and radio programs, and serving as an expert on politics, elections, and governance for scores of print publications. She is a regular contributor to U.S. News & World Report's "Thomas Jefferson Street" blog. 

Before coming to George Washington University, Dr. Brown served as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Villanova University. Prior to returning to academia, she worked as an education policy and public affairs consultant. Dr. Brown also served as a political appointee in President William J. Clinton’s administration at the U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Brown earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph. D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also earned a M.A. in American politics and public policy from the University of Arizona.

Christopher J. Deering
Senior Associate Dean and Associate Provost for Administration and Operations
Professor of Political Science

Christopher J. Deering is professor of Political Science at The George Washington University where he currently serves as senior associate dean and associate provost for administration and operations for the College of Professional Studies and GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus. 

From 2002 to 2008 he served as political science department chair and from 1990 to 1994 he was associate dean of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. He also served as program director for GW’s Legislative Affairs Program from 1978 until 1992. Professor Deering is co-author of Committees in Congress (1984, 1990, and 1997), co-editor of Interest Groups Unleashed (2013), editor of Congressional Politics (1989).

In addition he is author or co-author of articles and chapters on congressional leadership, committees, legislative careers, Congress's role in foreign and national security policymaking, state resistance to federal mandates, the constitutional choices of democratizing nations, and on the language of politics. From 1990 to 1998 he served as Director of Academic Planning and Development for the American Political Science Association's Congressional Fellowship Program and on the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowships Advisory Board. He has served on the editorial boards for Legislative Studies Quarterly and Congress & the Presidency. As an APSA Congressional Fellow (1984-85) he served as a legislative aide to Senator George J. Mitchell (D, Maine). He also served as a Brookings Institution Research Fellow in Governmental Studies (1977-78).

He earned his BA in Political Science at the University of Southern California (1974) and his MA (1975) and PhD (1979) in Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Adele Ashkar, FASLA
Associate Dean for Academic Excellence
Adele Ashkar is responsible for the academic standards at CPS. She works closely with CPS Program Directors to maintain their programs at the forefront of academic knowledge and quality of education. Her portfolio includes the CPS Center for Student Engagement and the office of Alumni Relations.

As Director of GW’s Landscape Design Program until 2015, Professor Ashkar launched a new Graduate Certificate and master’s degree in Sustainable Landscapes, bringing that program to the cutting edge of sustainable design methodology and practice, and making it the premier graduate program in Landscape Design.  The program is specifically designed to meet the needs of career-changers and working adults, with intensive face-to-face and hybrid online courses that are tailored to fit into their busy schedules. Professor Ashkar currently teaches core design studio courses and advises faculty and students in the program. GW’s Sustainable Landscapes program, as part of Team Capitol DC, competed in the Department of Energy’s biennial Solar Decathlon 2013, a competition among University teams to build and operate a zero-energy home. The award-winning team distinguished itself by including the garden areas in a holistic sustainable design that delighted visitors and juries.

Professor Ashkar is very active in the academic and campus-wide efforts towards sustainability, serving on cross-disciplinary faculty committees on Sustainability and Sustainable Food initiatives and advising the Grounds Management Team on green campus initiatives. She is part of an interdisciplinary faculty team that teaches the undergraduate course Introduction to Sustainability, which is the foundational course in GW’s undergraduate Minor in Sustainability.

Prior to joining GW’s Landscape Design program, Professor Ashkar practiced landscape architecture at the Office of Dan Kiley in Charlotte, VT, then at the multidisciplinary design firm HOK, Inc., in New York City and Washington, DC, where she managed large design and installation projects. She is author of Someday in the Park with George: National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds (Carter 2012) and Time:Space.  Landscape Architecture in the Nation’s Capital (Donning 2010). She is a frequent speaker at conferences and events on sustainable design, and has served as design studio critic for Master of Landscape Architecture programs at Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. Professor Ashkar holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She has recently been inducted as Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Jack Prostko
Associate Dean for Learning and Faculty Development
Jack Prostko works closely with CPS Program Directors and faculty to develop innovative and engaging curricula across the College's wide range of academic programs. He assists faculty in creating effective learning opportunities both in the classroom and online--working with faculty on their syllabi, course materials, assignments, and teaching methods and strategies. He coordinates assessment efforts for the College, reviewing program and course goals and evaluating learning outcomes.   In addition, he serves on GW's Teaching and Learning Collaborative Advisory Board and works with colleagues in other GW Colleges and programs to help coordinate collaborative teaching improvement efforts.  Before starting the faculty development program at CPS in 2008, he was the Director of Faculty Development at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he founded the Faculty Development Center and supported teaching initiatives for all undergraduate and graduate programs. Prior to his work at UMBC he was the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Stanford and taught in the English Department at Vanderbilt University. Along with Michele Marincovich and Frederic Stout he is the co-editor of The Professional Development of Graduate Teaching Assistants (Anker). He consults regularly with universities and professional organizations on a wide range of teaching and learning issues.

K. Cyrus Homayounpour
Associate Dean for Marketing and Enrollment Management
Homayounpour oversees CPS' marketing and recruitment, communications, and admissions teams and also manages the college's partnerships with vendors and outside organizations. He joined CPS in 2011 as the director of the American and Saudi Arabian Dialogue Education Center being responsible for promoting U.S. and Saudi Arabian dialogue through seminars, short courses, lecture series and customized training programs for Saudi professionals. His academic interest is in the areas of international education and professional studies and he is a frequent presenter on these topics at national and international conferences.

Prior to joining GW Homayounpour was a senior executive at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), the largest association for the field, where he directed several programs and functional areas over his more than two decades of service, including membership development and marketing, UPCEA’s Global Associate Knowledge Network and its corporate sponsorship program.

Homayounpour holds a M.A. in International Relations from Georgetown University and a M.A. in Area Studies (Near & Middle East) from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Jim Robinson
Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Public Leadership
Jim Robinson is the Executive Director of The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. He is a senior executive and change leader with more than 25 years of experience in leadership of large-scale organization change, strategic human resources development, and organization effectiveness consulting with corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The focus of his work has been the development of empowering leaders and the building of high commitment/high-performance organizations that achieve outstanding results. Areas of expertise include:

  • Leadership Development Systems
  • Executive coaching
  • Performance Improvement Initiatives and Change Management
  • Breakthrough Labor Relations Strategies
  • Strategic Human Resources Architecture and Policies
  • Organization Design and Development 
Jim writes, lectures, and leads workshops in the field of personal self-empowerment and personal effectiveness. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and a Masters of Arts in counseling psychology from Rutgers University.

Melissa Feuer
Assistant Dean of Students
Melissa Feuer is responsible for the services the College provides to its students and graduates and leads the student services and career services teams.  From 2010 to 2012, Melissa was the Director of Career Services for the college, assisting students and alumni with short and long term career strategies.   Previously she worked with mid-career attorneys at a private outplacement firm in the DC area where she specialized in resume and cover letter critique and interview preparation. She has practiced law at a corporate law firm and as senior in-house counsel for a public company. Melissa earned a B.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. Melissa served as adjunct faculty with the GW Paralegal Studies program from 2007 - 2012.

Rachel Venezian
Director of Business Planning and Analysis
Rachel Venezian is is the Director of Business Planning and Analysis for the College of Professional Studies (CPS)  and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus (VSTC).  In this role, she is responsible for financial oversight and analysis, internal controls, budgeting, forecasting, and enhancing business processes for CPS and VSTC.  Rachel has extensive higher education non-profit experience, primarily in the area of budget and financial management. Prior to accepting her current role in 2009, she worked as a Senior Budget Analyst in GW’s University Budget Office for three years and as the Director of Budgeting and Auxiliary Services at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Rachel is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, having served as a math and science teacher in a public high school in Tougan, Burkina Faso. She earned a B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College and a Masters of Accountancy from the George Washington University School of Business.