September 12, 2002

Search Committee Forms To Find Dean's Successor

Print More

Provost Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin has appointed a faculty committee which she will chair to begin the search for the successor to Philip E. Lewis, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The job of the dean is a complex and demanding one,” Martin said in a statement. “We have a strong search committee and I am confident we will find an outstanding dean.”

The thirteen faculty on the committee include representatives of the Chemistry, Economics, Plant Biology, English, History, History of Art, International Studies and Linguistics Departments and Africana Studies.

The committee, only formed in the last two weeks, has already met twice.

“The meetings have been 100 percent constructive and focused,” said committee member Prof. James Webster, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Music.

The committee must now begin the search process.

“We will cast a wide net looking for candidates,” said committee member Prof. Peter Kahn, mathematics.

That process may yield anywhere from, “50 to 500” applicants, according to Webster. The search committee will eliminate all but three or four finalists, who will be formally interviewed on campus.

Faculty on the committee assume a role like that of an admissions officer, serving to review and eliminate applicants.

“We will read all of the applicants’ folders and generate a list of candidates for the President to pick,” said committee member Peter LePage, chair of the Physics Department. All of this must happen quickly. The new dean’s first day will be July 1, 2003.

That means a decision must be reached by early Spring semester 2003.

Lewis’ resignation, effective June 30, 2003, is a result of, “irreconcilable differences,” in Lewis’ words, with Martin and President Hunter R. Rawlings III.

Lewis was appointed acting dean in July 1995, named dean in July 1996 and was reappointed for a second five-year term in 2000.

Martin and Rawlings praised Lewis’ performance in a recent statement.

“He has worked indefatigably for the College and the University and he has made significant contributions to both,” she said.

Rawlings added that the faculty hired under Lewis’ watch — 20 percent of the College’s professorial staff — was, “excellent” and, “testimony to Dean Lewis’ high standards and his resolute recruiting.”

Lewis, who will take a year of sabbatical leave in France, will not be the only person missing from campus in Fall 2003.

The three other senior academic administrators in the College will also be on sabbatical leave. Lynne Abel, associate dean for Undergraduate Admissions and Education for the last 25 years, will return to the faculty of the Classics Department after a year of leave, while the others are taking planned sabbaticals.

“There will be a new President, a new dean and a new associate dean,” Kahn said.

Faculty have expressed concern about the overlap in turnover in the administration.

“It would be silly to deny that it is bound to have an impact but I believe it will be short term,” Webster said.

Another concern has been the role of the new president in the final decision.

“There has been a lot of discussion in respect to the role of Rawlings and the new President,” Webster said.

Rawlings settled any question about who would pass final judgment on the new dean in an interview with the Sun.

“No candidate [for dean] would be taken without the new president’s consent,” Rawlings said.

The Arts College is the largest at Cornell, with approximately 4,000 undergraduates, 1,500 graduate students, 600 faculty members and 300 staff members, according to the Cornell news service.

Archived article by Peter Norlander