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Lange aims for A&S dean search committee by May

A search committee to replace outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William Chafe may be ready to begin work in early May, and will probably be predominantly comprised of faculty members, Provost Peter Lange said this week.

"I've started to work with the Executive Committee of Academic Council on the process by which the membership of the committee will be determined, and I am hoping that we can have an agreed-upon list of names for the [search] committee - probably nine - by the end of this month or early May," Lange said.

The search for new deans is conducted through the Provost's Office, as stipulated in the Faculty Handbook. The provost and President Nan Keohane are jointly responsible for the final decision.

While a search committee can be comprised of administrators, faculty or a mix, Lange said he will ensure that faculty play a "very prominent role on the search committee, and a leadership role."

Lange said the committee will search both nationally and internally for candidates to replace Chafe, who announced in March that he would be stepping down in 2004 to return to teaching and research.

"This should be a fairly attractive job, and therefore I think we should have a pretty good list of candidates," Lange said.

Chafe said the job ahead was "exciting," and that the primary challenge for his successor would be to "sustain and create excellence" through a time of constrained resources.

He also said the job of dean of the faculty of arts and sciences has changed tremendously since he took office in 1995.

"It's become far more complicated in terms of both recruitment and retention," Chafe said. "Budgetary challenges have become greater [and] the need for creativity in both undergraduate and graduate recruitment has become more challenging. I think we've taken on the path of enriching and refining our curriculum and undergraduate student climate with great relish and I think we've made important changes."

A mix of strategically-placed advertisements, communications with university presidents, provosts and deans and direct entreaties to reluctant candidates will yield a pool of possibilities for the search committee to consider. Then the committee will begin the lengthy process of winnowing down the list to three finalists.

"What they'll do is eventually submit to the president and myself probably about three names, unranked, from inside or outside the University, and then the president and I will do what we do, including interacting with the candidates, doing due diligence behind the scenes and talking with people who know them," Lange said.

Chafe said he will not be involved in the search process unless asked to comment on his experiences, but cited intellectual leadership, moral courage and a willingness to take on new challenges as essential qualities for his successor.

Dean of Natural Sciences Berndt Mueller, who has not ruled out his own interest in the job, expanded upon Chafe's description of requisite characteristics. "The next dean should possess all the qualities embodied by Dean Chafe: a strong and distinctive vision for Arts and Sciences as the academic core of the University; a strong scholarly reputation in her [or] his own discipline; excellent administrative skills; the ability to work with the other deans, the provost, and the president; [and] a talent for successful fundraising."

Lange said he hoped the search for a new dean would not be complicated by the simultaneous search for a new president to replace Keohane, also to step down in 2004.

"In our structure, the dean fundamentally reports to the provost. While I'm sure that dean candidates will be curious about who the president will be... I don't think it will be a major factor," Lange said. "If we had a candidate we really wanted and the candidate said, 'I'm ready to sign up but I would like to know who the president's going to be,' we might be able to work around that by waiting [to name the dean]."

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