4The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is on the search for a new Ronald P. Lynch Dean to lead over 3,800 undergraduate students, 1,000 graduate students, 23 majors, 42 minors and 1,500 courses of study.
The current dean, Kathryn Boor ’80, has held the position for the past 10 years and will end her second term in June 2020. Lisa Yager, staff to the CALS Dean Search Committee, told The Sun that academic deans are appointed for a five year term and typically get renewed for a second term, but it’s Cornell’s practice that a ten year term for deans be the maximum.
“The Dean will be expected to expand the intellectual, financial, and human assets of CALS while serving as a critical member of the senior leadership team of Cornell University,” according to the job posting. “Candidates for the role should have a record of successful leadership in an academic enterprise and experience guiding the interaction of people and systems to create the highest levels of institutional academic accomplishment.
Previous heads have returned to teaching, in the case of Soumitra Dutta, former dean of the business school, or Gretchen Ritter ’83, former dean of Arts and Sciences. Others, like Cornell Tech’s founding dean Daniel Huttenlocher, departed for similar institutions; Huttenlocher left to be the founding dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Schwarzman College of Computing, and Ritter ultimately took a post as executive dean at Ohio State University.
Boor joined Cornell in 1994 as the first female faculty member in the food science department. She started her term as dean in July 2010, under what was originally a five-year contract.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cornell, a master’s in food science from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California-Davis, according to the University.
“The faculty, staff and students in the college are passionate; they make me want to strive to be a better person,” Boor recently told The Sun about Cornell being the highest-ranked agriculture program by the Wall Street Journal. “I am an optimist, and that world-view has been supported and shaped by my time in CALS and at Cornell.”
In 2018, the New York State Senate honored Boor as a “Woman of Distinction.”
“Her tenure as the dean of one of the world’s foremost agricultural universities has produced landmark achievements in education, food safety, public awareness and cutting-edge research,” State Senator Tom O’Mara said about Boor at the ceremony.
A committee of 16 relevant stakeholders is leading the search process, including CALS professors from a range of departments. Avery August Ph.D. ’94, vice provost for academic affairs, and John Siliciano ’75, deputy provost, are co-chairing the committee. Other notable members of the committee include Ray Jayawardhana, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Stephen Ashley ’62 MBA ’64, a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees.
In an email to the CALS community on Friday, August and Siliciano invited students to attend a forum on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. in Call Auditorium to assist in the search process.
“We are interested in hearing your views on the qualities you would like to see in the next dean,” August and Siliciano wrote. “This information will be helpful as we develop the position specification that will guide the search process.”
According to Yager, these forums will be a place to explain the search process, provide feedback on the characteristics for the next dean, and give input on “opportunities and challenges those in the College feel are important over the next few years.”