March 31, 2003

DeVries to Replace Abel

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While the search for a new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences continues, a replacement was named for the outgoing head of the college’s admissions and advising office.

After an internal search, David DeVries, student services associate, was named the next associate dean for undergraduate education. He replaces Lynne Abel, who has held the position for the past 25 years.

The associate dean oversees the office of admissions and advising, in addition to serving as the chair of both the educational policy committee and the academic records committee.

“I plan to return to teaching in the classics departments,” Abel said, citing age as her reason for stepping down. She plans to take a year of leave before returning to the classroom. Phillip Lewis, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who is also stepping down at the end of this year praised Abel for her career, especially her effort to combine advising and admissions.

DeVries is currently a student services associate at the Arts and Sciences advising office. He was named as Abel’s successor while students were on Spring Break, but no public announcement was made. DeVries was unavailable for comment at press time.

Unlike the search for a replacement for Lewis, the search for Abel’s replacement was done without any input from students.

“While the Dean candidates are being considered, a quick internal search [which is an irregular approach for Cornell] was done by the outgoing dean and associate dean, and a new associate dean hired,” said Janet Snoyer, career services.

However, Abel denied having any personal involvement in the decision. “The associate dean is a senior staff member reporting to the dean of the college, so we did an internal search,” she said, adding, “people aren’t usually involved in the selection of their replacements.”

The search is in great contrast to the process that is underway for Lewis’s replacement.

The four finalists are currently interviewing on campus with many different faculty, administrative and student groups as well as President-elect Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77.

“This is a very public process by design,” said President Hunter R. Rawlings III, referring to the search for the new Arts dean. Members of the University community have questioned the great disparity between the selection of the arts dean and the associate, who wields a great deal of influence over committees and programs affecting students.

“Students were kept completely out of the loop in this process and the announcement was made while you were all gone for spring break,” Snoyer said. “This person oversees every committee and program that affects students in the Arts College.”

Ajay Rajani ’05, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, also expressed disappointment at the process used.

“It’s strange that the University goes out of the way to involve students in the selection of a new dean, who has less impact on our lives as students than the head of admissions and advising,” Rajani said.

“No matter what the job title is, this person is very important to students and the replacement was barely publicized at all.”

Archived article by Gautham Nagesh