November 18, 2003

Arts Dean Search Down to 4

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During the past two weeks, Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin released the names of the final four candidates for the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Final Four

The list of names include G. Peter Lepage, interim Harold Tanner dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Martin Moskovits, dean of the division of mathematical, life and physical sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Joan Girgus, special assistant to the dean of faculty at Princeton University; and James Parente Jr., associate dean for faculty and research at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts.

Martin only released Lepage and Moskovits’ names in an e-mail sent to community members on Nov. 7. She added that at the time, Girgus and Parente had not yet informed their respective institutions about their nominations and as a result, the University was not able to give out their names until last week.

“I am very pleased to be a finalist for the position of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences,” Girgus said. “I look forward to learning more about the [arts college] as the search proceeds.”


The first search started more than a year ago, when Martin and former President Hunter R. Rawlings III asked for the resignation of Philip E. Lewis, the former Harold Tanner Dean of the arts college. His departure last July came after a series of disagreements with University administration.

A new search started at the beginning of the school year when Prof. Robert Fefferman, mathematics, University of Chicago, declined the position and University administrators did not have enough time to offer the permanent position to another candidate.

According to Martin, however, the search committee was “not starting over” during the past several months. Rather, the group, which mainly consists of faculty members reviewed both old and new candidates.

“The Search Committee worked through the Fall to identify strong internal and external candidates, using information from last year’s process and new information about the status of some of our strongest potential candidates,” Martin stated in her e-mail to members of the University community.

In a previous Sun interview, Martin noted that unlike the circumstances of last year’s search, this year, “at least a significant number of faculty feel that an internal member may be preferred” for the position. Lepage, who was a member of last year’s search committee, said that an external candidate might have its advantages.

“An internal candidate comes with considerable knowledge about the institution and many contacts among faculty and staff,” Lepage said. “An external candidate could bring exciting new perspectives and experience from another institution — perspectives and experience that might be quite useful to Cornell.”

The four finalists will now undergo a second round of interviews consisting of one-day, on-campus visits to the University. During this time, the candidates will have meetings with students, faculty members and President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77.

“The purpose of the on-campus interviews is to give faculty, staff and students in the college an opportunity to meet with the candidates, hear them speak, ask them questions, and form an opinion about which candidate would make the best dean,” Martin said.

Martin said that the interviews also help the finalists become more familiar with the University. Moskovits came to campus last Wednesday to conduct his interview and other candidates, including Parente, are keen to be introduced to East Hill and the potential deanship.

“I am looking forward to discussing the position further with the University administration and with the faculty, staff and students of the college, and [learn] more about their aspirations and the ways in which I might help to realize them,” Parente said.

The search committee expects to send a list of unranked names to Lehman after meeting with all of the candidates and again reviewing their credentials and critiques from other University members.

“I expect that the search committee will submit three names to President Lehman,” Martin said.

Martin hopes the search will be completed by the end of the semester.

“We believe we have four very strong candidates and urge you to do whatever you can to meet them and let us know what you think,” Martin told the community in her e-mail.

Archived article by Brian Tsao