With searches for several divisional deans still underway, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler is looking to solidify her office’s administrative structure within the next year.
Gendler told the News that her goal is to fill the positions of the inaugural faculty dean of science, School of Engineering & Applied Science dean and the dean of Diversity and Faculty Development by July 2018. Paul Turner, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is serving as interim faculty dean of science this fall, and Acting Deputy Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development Kathryn Lofton agreed to extend her term for the 2017–18 year as the office searches for her replacement. T. Kyle Vanderlick, the current dean of the engineering school, will finish her term in December, and the FAS Dean’s Office may consider appointing an interim if her successor is not in place by January 2018, Gendler said.
“Our goal is to put in place a stable structure for the FAS Dean’s Office by the end of the first five-year term,” said Gendler, who is beginning the fourth year of her role as inaugural faculty dean.
The FAS Dean’s Office transitioned from a system of divisional directors to a divisional dean system in 2016 after the Provost’s Office transferred budget authority over the faculty to Gendler and her office. While the job of divisional director was only part-time, the position of divisional dean is a full-time commitment, Gendler said. The position of divisional dean combines the traditional responsibilities of director for a certain division — humanities, social sciences, science or the engineering school — with many of the prescribed duties of the deputy provost for that same area of study. Gendler said this system helps align the allocation of resources with Yale’s academic priorities.
Holly Rushmeier, computer science professor and chair of the faculty advisory committee tasked with recommending candidates for the engineering school position, said the committee has received applications from “many outstanding candidates” and is in the process of narrowing down the list of applicants. Rushmeier told the News that the new engineering school dean must facilitate growth in engineering and applied science for Yale to remain a top university in the 21st century.
Rushmeier said the overall shift of academic responsibilities to a set of divisional deans has alleviated the “unmanageable” duties of the deans of Yale College and the Graduate School.
“The concerns of students in Yale College and in the Graduate School are now receiving more of their respective deans’ attention, and policies determining the direction of the academic departments are being guided by people that can focus on those issues,” Rushmeier said.
Amy Hungerford, divisional dean of the humanities, said the arrival of the new deans will strengthen the decanal system, allowing the FAS Dean’s Office to make thoughtful decisions regarding cross-divisional issues.
Hungerford also praised the commitment of the faculty members serving in interim positions while the dean searches are underway.
“The group of deans within the faculty constitutes a fund of wisdom, experience and diversity of approach, and our ability to accomplish large-scale projects that touch the whole Faculty — such as the revision of the tenure system — depends upon having that group at full strength,” Hungerford said.
But other faculty have expressed reservations about the changes to the FAS Dean’s Office over the past year.
Ruth Koizim GRD ’77, senior lector in French, said she has reservations about what she describes as the “exponential increase in administrators” in the faculty and across Yale.
“I’ll withhold judgement until I see what they do, but basically, it seems to me that these are positions that are created because we’ve created so much bureaucracy that we need more people to deal with the bureaucracy,” Koizim said.
Last November, a few months after the transition to the decanal system, the FAS Senate issued a report recommending that faculty members in the relevant divisions stay involved in the search and selection process to maintain “the credibility of divisional deans.” But according to minutes from a FAS Senate meeting last October, Gendler did not conduct a formal search or consult a faculty advisory search committee in 2016 when she selected Hungerford and Alan Gerber, divisional dean of social science.
This year, however, Gendler’s office established faculty advisory search committees for the engineering school dean and faculty science dean positions, and Gendler sent faculty-wide emails listing the members of those committees and the responsibilities associated with each position.
Gendler became the inaugural dean of the faculty in 2014.
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