August 25, 2004

Hotel School, ILR Search for New Deans

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In the continuing trend of the ever-changing University administration during the second year of President Jeffrey S. Lehman’s ’77 term, dean searches for the School of Hotel Administration and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations recently commenced earlier this summer.

Both David W. Butler, current dean of the hotel school and Edward J. Lawler, current dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations announced in May their intentions to step down from their positions at the end of the next academic year in June 2005.

In July and August of this year, the wheels for finding replacements were set into motion when Provost Biddy Martin chose search committees consisting of faculty and administrators in consultation with the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Appointments, according to Search Manager Michael Matier. Matier said that the search committees’ main objective is to have new deans in place by July 1, 2005 and Martin added that the selection, made by Lehman, will be made by the end of the second semester.

In memos found on the Provost’s website, Martin indicates that dean finalists’ on-campus presentations and question-and-answer sessions will be placed online. Martin said that this initiative, which was started during the Spring 2004 College of Human Ecology dean search, was made to help members of the University community become more invested in the search process.

“It’s critically important for those people who either don’t live in Ithaca but have a significant interest,” Matier said. “The alumni are spread around the world, and it’s also important for those people who don’t get the opportunity that are here in Ithaca, but because of the timing, they cannot be at the presentation.”

In recent times, the process of filling vacant dean slots has not been foreign to Matier and Martin. In his first year as President, Lehman selected four new deans for the Law School, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Architecture, Art and Planning and the College of Human Ecology.

In Fall 2005, the University administration that former President Hunter R. Rawlings III left in the summer of 2003 will be almost unrecognizable with the replacement of half of the 12-person Academic Dean staff and the installation of two new vice presidents for University relations, Chief Financial Officer and Vice Provost among other positions over the past two years.

Although it might be considered that Lehman’s arrival and the consequential searches for new deans could be a changing of the guard, Lawler, who along with Butler, resigned citing their desire to spend more time on research and other activities, said that these types of changes are fairly normal in a university administration.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with President Lehman, but I think there is a kind of typical period of time when deans serve,” Lawler said. “Some of them serve about five years, and some serve between five to 10 years. If you look at all of the deans who have left, they have served within that window so it’s kind of a normal turnover that occurs in dean positions. It just so happens that a number of them made that decision in a relatively short period of time.”

Furthermore, Lawler said that Lehman’s four dean selections over the past year are merely linked through their strong academic credentials — one of the many factors which Martin, Lehman and the search committee will take into account when reviewing candidates. Martin said that other characteristics which will be taken into account in the two newest searches are a commitment to strong academics in research and teaching, commitment to fundraising and a vision, among other qualities.

“We have appointed talented administrators who are also accomplished scholars,” Martin said, in reference to the four deans selected in the last year. “In every case they have a vision for the college they will lead and are also enthusiastic about working collaboratively with other deans for the good of the University as a whole.”

As for Lisa Staiano-Coico Ph.D. ’81 and Mohsen Mostafavi, the two newest deans of the human ecology college and architecture college, respectively, Martin is pleased with the jobs both have been doing since they started on July 1, 2004.

“Both have begun consulting with faculty in their colleges, with their administrative staffs, and with the academic deans,” Martin said. “I am impressed with their efforts to get to know Cornell and with the plans they have already begun to develop.”

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor