CAS Dean Search: Looking for a New Starr

Greta Chevance
The CAS Dean Search Committee hopes to have chosen a new dean by the end of the Spring semester.

In an effort to identify candidates to assume Professor Gabrielle Starr’s position as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences next fall, President Andrew Hamilton and Provost Katherine Fleming have assembled the CAS Dean Search Committee.

“We have asked the committee to seek candidates of great achievement who are respected scholars in their fields and who are passionate about undergraduate education, with strong records of academic leadership and demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Hamilton and Fleming’s statement to the CAS community said. “The new dean will be a forceful advocate for the liberal arts at NYU and for the undergraduate academic experience.”

The committee is comprised of 12 NYU faculty members and is supported by Park Executive Search, a search firm that works with various institutions to identify qualified candidates to fill academic, executive and board positions.

Since its inception in mid-January, the committee has launched an advertisement that summarizes the deanship role and addresses the credentials and characteristics that its candidates should embody. The group will also facilitate discussions between committee members and CAS students, faculty and administrators through its listening sessions next week.

Chair of the Search Committee and Chemistry Professor James Canary said that the committee will use the comments and concerns raised at the listening sessions when assessing candidates for the deanship.

“These sessions are intended to offer an opportunity to participate in the process with the greatest inclusion of arts and science community members as possible,” Canary said. “We are seeking input about the challenges and opportunities facing the College, the top priorities for the next dean and the credentials and experience we should be seeking in candidates.”

Canary said that members of the CAS community have been reflecting on Starr’s term in evaluating the qualities that they feel her successor should have.

“Although the committee is only at the very beginning of its work, we have already heard much about Dean Starr’s commitment and accessibility to undergraduates,” Canary said. “These are without a doubt high priorities sought in the next dean.”

Sociology Professor and Search Committee Member Michael Hout said that the listening sessions are held to obtain a wide variety of input from the CAS community.

“We are holding listening sessions so that participants can present the views of all the stakeholders in this important choice,” Hout said. “No doubt we could come up with some of that material by brainstorming among ourselves, but it is more authentic to get the input from a broader community, phrased in the terms chosen by the speakers.”

CAS sophomore Janice Lu said that she appreciates the university extending the search process to involve the opinions of members of the CAS community.

“The efforts of the Search Committee, particularly through the listening sessions, demonstrate an interest on the part of the university to integrate student and faculty’s judgments in assessing who might be a viable candidate for the position,” Lu said.

Hout said that while the university encourages the input of CAS students and faculty in the search for candidates, the initiative is still rather private, so the university is unable to discuss specific candidates or anything about the process that could suggest who might be a candidate with students and faculty members not on the search committee.

“A dean search is high stakes for the university, for the person who is picked and for the ones who are passed over,” Hout said. “Some outstanding people would not even let us consider them if they thought it might get out that they were a candidate.”

The search committee hopes to have a new dean for CAS by the end of the spring semester.

“Items learned from the consultative activities over the next couple of weeks will be used to develop criteria and to set priorities in weighing the candidates,” Canary said. “By the end of spring, the committee will recommend a shortlist of candidates to the provost and president for their consideration with the goal of having a new dean in place for the fall semester.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 6 print edition. Email Greta Chevance at [email protected] 

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