May 30, 2012

Peter Lepage Will Step Down After 10 Years as Dean of Arts and Sciences

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Correction appended

Peter Lepage, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, announced last week that he will step down when his term ends on June 30, 2013.

At the end of his tenure, Lepage will have served 10 years as dean of the arts college — one of the longest terms a dean has served in Cornell’s history. Aside from Lepage, only one of the other 19 previous deans of the arts college has held the position for as long.

Prof. Ritchie Patterson ’81, physics, said Lepage has been an “excellent” leader and an asset to Cornell’s administration.

“It’s a loss for Cornell that he’s stepping down,” Patterson said.

Lepage was also a “great representative” for the college, said Jim Finlay, assistant dean of the arts college.

“He’s been very supportive of academic advising in the college, and for that, we’re very grateful,” Finlay said. “He’s been a wonderful leader, has great vision, [and is] very smart … We’re going to miss him very much.”

Patterson also noted that during the 2008 financial crisis, Lepage was quick to respond and push Cornell to begin hiring faculty again. Because of that, Patterson said, the University has been able to hire “great” new faculty members. According to the College of Arts and Sciences’ website, as of October, the college hired approximately 35 new faculty in an effort to preempt a future wave of retirements.

Lepage, looking back at the arts college’s growth, said that its strong reputation is cause for celebration.

“Next spring, I will be delighted to share some reflections on the College of Arts and Sciences during my decade as dean,” Lepage said in a University press release. “There is much to celebrate about the current course of Cornell’s liberal arts college — one of the nation’s finest.”

After stepping down, Lepage plans to remain at Cornell as a faculty member in the Department of Physics, where he has continued conducting research while serving as dean, Patterson said. She also was “delighted” by Lepage’s announcement to return to teaching and full-time research in the department.

“He’s been impressive in terms of keeping up some component of his research as his dean … and of course, it’s great for the science when he does,” Patterson said. “He does terrific physics.”

Throughout his time serving as dean of the college, Lepage maintained his research in quantum physics, according to the University. In addition, he served as co-chair on a study about collegiate science education for a group of scientists who advise President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology.

The search for a new dean will be conducted by the Office of the Provost, which will form a search committee that will look for a new dean during the 2012-2013 academic year, according to the University.

John Siliciano ’75, senior vice provost for academic affairs, said this search committee will be composed of not only faculty from the arts college but also deans from other colleges at Cornell. Once the committee has assessed each candidate, he said, it will present its recommendations to Provost Kent Fuchs.

After consulting with President David Skorton, Fuchs will make the ultimate decision on hiring, Siliciano wrote in an email.

According to the University, a new dean will be chosen by July 2013.

Correction: A previous edition of this article incorrectly stated that Peter Lepage, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is stepping down when his term ends June 30, 2012. In fact, his term ends June 30, 2013.

Original Author: Caroline Flax