June 26, 2008

Kent Kleinman to Lead AAP as Dean

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The year-long search to find a replacement for Mohsen Mostafavi as dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning came to a close this morning with the University’s announcement that Kent Kleinman will take the reins from interim Dean W. Stanley Taft. Taft has been serving as interim dean since Mostafavi resigned last fall.

Kleinman currently serves as the chair of the Department of Architecture, Interior Design and Lighting at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. His five-year term will commence on Sept. 1.

Provost Biddy Martin offered praise for Kleinman, noting a distinct point of view that he brings with him.

“He will be a creative and effective leader of the college, and his strong interdisciplinary perspective will help create new bridges between the college and related units across the University,” Martin stated in a release. “He has played a transformative role in his previous leadership roles, and I have great confidence in what will be achieved at Cornell under his deanship.”

Before joining the administration at Parsons, Kleinman was a professor and chair of the Department of Architecture at SUNY Buffalo. He received a graduate degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkley, where his studies focused on 20th Century European Modernism.

An outside search firm aided the University’s search committee, which was overseen by John Siliciano, law, a vice provost. Though Kleinman was chosen from outside the University, he is not entirely new to Cornell. In 1995 he spent a year serving as a visiting critic at AAP.

“The College of Architecture, Art and Planning is quite simply one of the best places on Earth to study the art and science of giving material expression to the human condition,” Kleinman stated in a press release. “The faculty are renowned, the students remarkable, and the college and University are home to world-class research in virtually every field that affects the constructed and imagined environment. AAP is a collective work, produced by extraordinary individuals over many years. It is a great honor — exhilarating and daunting — to be invited to join this team as dean.”

President David Skorton acknowledged that Kleinman is taking over at a “pivotal time in the college’s history.” In recent years, AAP has seen considerable change within its administration. Mostafavi took over as dean just four years ago, replacing Porus Olpadwala. Additionally, Mark Cruvellier has been serving as interim chair of the department of architecture since the resignation of Nasrine Seraji in 2006.

A primary focus throughout Kleinman’s tenure as dean will be the controversial construction of Milstein Hall. The project, which was initially set to be erected in fall 2004, has encountered a number of problems that have stood in the way of its completion since Cornell set forth its plans in the 1990s.