Smith appointed dean
By Brian Rosenberg
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Arthur C. Smith has been appointed to a two-year term as dean for student affairs, effective July 1. Smith had been acting dean since July 1, 1990.
Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who made the appointment, said, "Professor Smith has had a major impact on the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs. The role he has played as a faculty member, as an advocate for the students, and as an administrator has been exceptional. I felt it was appropriate to formalize his role as a leader at the Institute."
Smith felt eager to begin his term as dean. "There a lot of issues I'd like to address while dean," he said. "I'm really glad to see the Undergraduate Association and a number of fraternities adopting their own alcohol policies. One of the major sources of negative incidents on campus is the irresponsible use of alcohol," he continued.
Smith said he likes IAP "just about the way it is. . . . I would probably speak out against any change," Smith added.
Smith's appointment came as a shock to the Undergraduate Association. Hans C. Godfrey, chairman of the UA Governance Committee, said, "I was given a direct impression [from Wrighton] that there would be much student input [on the selection of a new dean]. It surprises me that [Wrighton] would make a move like this without notifying [the UA]. There's a great lack of communication here."
Godfrey continued, "I have had several meetings with Wrighton concerning dean appointments, and I was always very concerned that there would be student input [for the dean of student affairs] if not for the other deans.
"The UA considered this sacred," Godfrey added. "The academic deans don't have a direct effect on students' social lives, but the dean for student affairs does. I am, however, pleased that the new dean is [Smith]. I wanted him to be dean," he said.
Wrighton made a distinction between Smith's appointment and the recent naming of Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Joel Moses as dean of engineering. "I think [the dean of student affairs] was a very different situation than Moses' appointment. [Smith] had been acting dean, and the consensus of people who interacted with him and myself was that he was doing a great job," Wrighton said.
"It's not the case that every appointment will require a lengthy search process," Wrighton added. He said he thought "the element of student input has been received in the level of enthusiasm I've heard for Professor Smith."
Smith agreed that different situations require different selection processes. "If we were talking about a really long-term appointment, then I'd say there would have to be a search committee. However, my appointment is essentially a short-term
"I'm very much in favor of search committees and student participation on them. On the other hand, it seems foolish to have a committee which would have this result as something of a foregone conclusion," Smith said.
Godfrey expressed concern that the way Smith's appointment was made could set a bad precedent for other upcoming selections. Godfrey is scheduled to meet with Wrighton on Wednesday to discuss the search for a new dean of science. "This decision will certainly affect my meeting with the provost," he said.
Wrighton said he will "soon be conducting broader searches for new deans of the schools of Science, and Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences." He added that there will "certainly be student representation on the science advisory committee."