Search for new dean begins

by Michael Qian | 5/26/16 5:48pm

In the wake of Michael Mastanduno’s announcement that he will step down as Dean of the Faculty at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, the College has launched a search for the next dean. Mastanduno, a government professor, was appointed to the position in 2010 and reappointed in 2014.

Biological sciences professor Kathy Cottingham and geography professor Mona Domosh will lead a six-person search committee, which also includes history professor Robert Bonner, mathematics and computer science professor Peter Winkler, Italian professor Graziella Parati and music professor Steven Swayne. The committee will collaborate with an executive search firm and begin work immediately.

In an email, Cottingham and Domosh wrote that they hope College President Phil Hanlon will announce a new dean by the beginning of the 2017 spring term. Both emphasized that candidates must understand how Dartmouth works, describing the College as neither a small liberal arts school nor a large research university. Instead, they defined it as a “research college” or “liberal arts university” that combines the two environments.

Cottingham and Domosh said that they are currently speaking with faculty members to develop a profile of an ideal dean.

The Dean of the Faculty oversees the direction of the College’s Arts and Sciences division, which encompasses over 600 faculty members in 40 academic departments and interdisciplinary programs. Moreover, the dean is a member of several administrative committees, which include the Steering Committee of the General Faculty and the Committee Advisory to the President — an organization which has come under some scrutiny for its recent denial of English professor Aimee Bahng’s tenure.

The College has traditionally selected the Dean of the Faculty from an internal pool of candidates. Mastanduno has taught at the College since 1987. Outside of his deanship, Mastanduno has chaired the government department, directed the Dickey Center for International Understanding and served as associate dean for social sciences.

In a letter to the Dean of the Faculty search committee, anthropology and Native American studies professor Sergei Kan said that, in his 27 years as a Dartmouth faculty member, the College has never considered external candidates for the position.

“I consider this a major change and do not favor it all,” he said. “While some Dartmouth traditions are not worth preserving, the tradition having to do with the Dean of Faculty being a member of our faculty is a time-honored one that makes very good sense and should be preserved.”

The last three deans, Carol Folt, Michael Gazzaniga and Jamshed Bharucha, were Dartmouth biology, psychology and psychology professors respectively.

Kan added that he was opposed to external candidates “in the spirit of maintaining our traditional [sic] of faculty democracy and in opposition to the development of an increasingly bureaucratic and hierarchical administrative structure, increasingly removed from the faculty, staff and students, which seems to be developing at Dartmouth.”

In a press release, Hanlon praised Mastanduno for his history of contributions to Dartmouth. He said both internal and external applicants will be considered, and he encouraged Dartmouth faculty members to apply.

The Dean of the Faculty is typically appointed for five years at a time. According to a Dartmouth press release, however, Mastanduno requested a shortened two-year reappointment so that he could return more quickly to his professorial activities. Mastanduno has continued to teach courses during his tenure.

Search committee members were chosen by the CAP and the Committee on Organization and Policy, which together compiled an initial list of up to 24 candidates. This list was subsequently winnowed down through a series of meetings and examined by Hanlon.

Raul Rodriguez contributed reporting.