February 26, 2003

Profs to Pick Next Dean of Faculty

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In 10 days, ballots are due for the election of a dean of faculty to replace outgoing dean J. Robert Cooke. Cooke’s five-year term comes to an end on July 1, when he will be replaced by one of three candidates: Prof. Terrence Fine, electrical and computer engineering; Prof. Danuta Shanzer, classics; and Prof. Charles Walcott Ph.D. ’59, neurology and behavior.

The dean of faculty is elected to a three-year term, which may be extended by two years pending the vote of the Faculty Senate. Cooke said that the Senate “typically” extends the term for most deans.

According to the Organization and Procedures of University Faculty, the duties of the dean include acting as a liaison between the faculty and the administration; representing the interests of the faculty to the trustees, administration and public; and helping to resolve problems and solve issues faced by the faculty. Qualifications required include an “acknowledged position of leadership on the faculty and a wide experience in University affairs.”

“My office mainly deals with affairs that cross college boundaries,” Cooke said when describing his main functions. When asked what issues he anticipated the new dean would face, he replied, “There really is no primary focus, none that I know now. You have to be prepared for whatever comes up.”

Cooke added that Cornell is one of the few universities where the faculty directly elects the dean of faculty.

“It really makes us an autonomous body,” Cooke said.

Each of the three candidates brings his or her own wealth of experience and qualifications to the table. The three had an opportunity to answer questions last Wednesday in a “Meet the Candidates” faculty forum.

Fine, in addition to his capacity as a full-time faculty member and serving on several policy committees, is currently the director of the Center for Applied Mathematics as well as the director of graduate studies in applied mathematics. He also currently serves on the executive board of the Faculty Senate.

“Looking briefly at what I see as potential problems and opportunities for the next dean, there are really two things that I see as the source of potential problems.