Mitchell Smooke, a mechanical engineering and materials science professor, will serve as acting dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences next semester, pending approval from the Yale Corporation, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler announced in a facultywide email on Thursday.
Smooke will take over from Kyle Vanderlick, who will complete her 10-year term as dean of the the engineering school this December. According to the email, the FAS hopes to appoint a long-term dean of the engineering school so that the official can begin working July 2018, January 2019 or July 2019. A committee, which Gendler appointed to advise her in the search for Vanderlick’s successor, has already identified a list of roughly 15 potential candidates from inside and outside Yale. Gendler has also appointed a second-round committee, which will consult with faculty members, staff, students and alumni in the the engineering school to cut the list to between three and five finalists. The committee hopes to find a scholar who is “committed to the place of engineering in a liberal arts curriculum” and will bring “vision and leadership” to the the engineering school, Gendler told the News.
In the meantime, Smooke, who served as acting dean of the the engineering school about 15 years ago, will work alongside the acting FAS dean of science, Paul Turner and 14 science and engineering department chairs to move forward with University President Peter Salovey’s plans to invest more heavily in the sciences.
“Professor Smooke is a distinguished scholar and teacher with a long history of service to the University within and beyond the the engineering school community,” Gendler said. “He is widely respected by his engineering school colleagues as a thoughtful, capable and even-handed leader with a deep commitment to excellence in both research and teaching.”
As acting dean of the the engineering school, Smooke will oversee both the short- and long-term planning for departments in the school, as well as the Center for Engineering Innovation Design, the Advanced Graduate Leadership Program and other the engineering school–based programs. He will work with the FAS dean of science to coordinate efforts across the divisions’ science departments and represent Yale in external activities related to the field, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
The search for a long-term dean of the the engineering school is one of three ongoing leadership searches within the FAS. In her Thursday email, Gendler updated members of the FAS on the progress made in searches to fill the roles of FAS dean of diversity and faculty development and FAS dean of science with long-term occupants.
According to Gendler, a small group of candidates for the position of FAS dean of diversity and faculty development are visiting campus over the next few months, a product of joint efforts by an outside search firm, Spencer Stuart, and a faculty advisory committee. The long-term occupant of the role is expected to begin work in July 2018, and Gendler plans to announce the appointee sometime next semester. Chair of the Department of Religious Studies Kathryn Lofton, who has served as interim deputy dean for diversity and faculty development since the position’s creation, said the appointment will likely not be announced until April because the new dean, who will also be a senior member of the FAS, will need to go through the tenure process first.
After the 2015 Halloween protests, the FAS diversity dean position was created in spring 2016 to promote an intellectually, socially and culturally diverse faculty. Lofton has worked on a part-time basis to facilitate the development of a strategic plan to help the FAS address diversity in faculty development.
“We have an all star group of potential candidates,” Lofton said in an interview with the News. “I think [the fact] that Yale is really behind the question of diversity with institutional, financial, administrative and faculty resources has allowed us to recruit an incredible pool of potential candidates.”
Lofton added that several Yale College students have agreed to take part in the search process and will be taking the candidates out for lunch during their visits to Yale.
In her email, Gendler also announced that Paul Turner, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who was appointed as acting FAS dean of science for the fall 2017 semester, has agreed to continue in the interim role for the spring semester, pending approval by the Corporation.
Gendler was named the inaugural dean of the FAS in 2014.
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Clarification, Nov. 17: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article implied that Dean of Science Paul Turner is a replacement for Dean of SEAS T. Kyle Vanderlick. In fact, the two administrators have separate positions.