New science dean chosen
By Alice N. Gilchrist
Professor of Physics Robert J. Birgeneau, the current head of the physics department, has been named as the new dean of the School of Science. He will assume the position on July 1 of this year.
Birgeneau will be replacing Gene M. Brown, who has held
the position since July 1985. Brown is leaving his current post because he wants to return to research and teaching. Brown was the former head of the biology department.
Provost Mark S. Wrighton made the appointment. In a letter announcing his decision, Wrighton said he "concluded that Birgeneau possesses the best combination of experience, vision, and dedication necessary to serve as dean of the School of Science."
Birgeneau was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Birgeneau's selection marks the first time students contributed
to the choice of a dean. Two students -- Richard R. Kerwell G and Julian P. Sachs '91 -- were on the advisory committee that selected Birgeneau. The committee spent six months discussing possible candidates for the position, and then presented Wrighton with their final recommendation.
Sachs said, "The whole process was extremely democratic." He added that he thought having students on the committee was not necessary; he thought the faculty on the committee were careful to think about issues that would affect students.
Hans C. Godfrey '93, chair-
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man of the UA Governance Committee, has been the leader in the push for increased student input in the selection of deans. He said he is "extremely happy" that students were involved in Birgeneau's appointment.
Godfrey said that it is vital that students have a part in the choice of deans. He said that even though there are many more faculty than students on advisory committees, it is wonderful that students can now present their views.
Godfrey said students on advisory committees can review a candidate's stand on "minority education and money for UROP's" and many other student interests that the faculty may not consider, perhaps because of the "age difference" between students and faculty.
Assistant Professor of Physics Mehran Kardar PhD '83 said he thinks Birgeneau will do a "very good job" as the new dean. Kardar, who worked with Birgeneau
five years ago, expressed concern that Birgeneau's new position could get in the way of his research. Kardar said, however, that he had the same concern when Birgeneau was appointed physics department head, and that position did not hinder Birgeneau's work.
Birgeneau's current research centers on high-temperature superconductivity. He has been the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics since 1982. He was also associate director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics from 1983 to 1986.
it wasn't really necessary to have students there; thought faculty on committee were careful to think about things that would affect students.