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Wrighton appoints students to dean search committee

Wrighton appoints students

to dean search committee

By Joanna E. Stone

Provost Mark S. Wrighton has appointed two students to the advisory search committee for the next dean of of the School of Science.

The two students, Richard R. Kerswell G and Julian P. Sachs '91, said they were appointed to the committee after being recommended to the position by their department heads. Kerswell is in the Department of Mathematics and Sachs is in the Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences.

The appointments come after repeated efforts by the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council to obtain student representation on search committees. Both student governments have formed governance committees to increase student representation on Institute search committees.

"It's a step in the right direction, but it's actually only half a step," said Mark Engel G, chair of the GSC Academic Projects and Policies Committee.

Engel said that although having students on the committee is a positive step, those appointed should be "student representatives." He means that students on the committee should be representative of students -- chosen by students through the GSC or UA. Also, Engel said the student committee member should continue to interact with students and student government once on the committee.

Neither Kerswell nor Sachs had been previously involved in the governance issue, and neither have been involved in the the GSC or the UA.

Kerswell admitted that his appointment to the committee came as a surprise to him.

"The provost called me up and asked me if I'd like to serve on the committee. . . . Naturally, I asked why me? [He told me it was] because my department head had recommended me." Kerswell said that he was not even aware that he had been nominated for the committee.

Sachs was also surprised at being considered for the committee. Sachs said a faculty member within his department had approached him about the position. Sachs said he was interested, but questioned his own qualifications for the position. "I don't really know what duties the dean of science has."

The search committee held their first meeting last week. However, the committee's chairman was not present and Sachs said his and Kerswell's duties on the committee have still not been made clear.

"We were told by the provost that we would be full-fledged members of the committee," said Sachs. "I guess we have whatever power that title entails." Since Sachs was unsure what he would be doing on the committee, he did not want to comment on the potential usefulness of having students on the search committee.

Kerswell believed student presence would be helpful to search committees in general. "The more voices from different angles, the better," he said.

Although he has no set agenda, Kerswell has planned out his first duty. "I'm interested in talking to as many graduate students as I can," he said.