Marc A. Kastner, head of the Department of Physics, will soon be the new dean of science. During his nine years in office, Kastner inititated the new flexible physics degree option, formerly known as Course VIII-B, led the construction of the new physics and spectroscopy lab, and hired about one-third of the current Physics Department faculty.
According to the MIT News Office, Kastner will be taking over from Robert J. Silbey as the new dean of science, effective July 1. Kastner was announced as the new head on Feb. 14, by Provost L. Rafael Reif.
Silbey, who has been serving as dean for the last six-and-a-half years, was scheduled to step down after his five-year term ended in Dec. 2005. According to Silbey, he agreed to stay on until June 30 at the request of Reif and President Susan Hockfield, "I intend to go back to teaching and continue doing research in chemistry," Silbey said. "I will teach a graduate class in the fall."
As a MIT faculty member for 33 years, Kastner has an extensive educational and administrative background. He enjoys both the educational and administrative aspects of his career.
"When you do these jobs, and you find out that you can help other people, especially young people both the students and the faculty, it's satisfying." Kastner said.
In addition to working with Silbey on the new degree option and Physics, Department of Material Sciences and Engineering, Spectroscopy, Infrastructure construction taking place in several buildings including Buildings 2, 4, 6, and 8, Kastner was also head of the department during the development and implementation of the Technology Enabled Active Learning classes three years ago. TEAL now serves as the first level option for the 8.01 (Physics I) and 8.02 (Physics II) classes.
Over the past nine years, Kastner has hired a considerable number of young faculty in the physics department, and currently wants to focus on recruiting more women and minorities in the science faculty. As the dean, Kastner said that he intends to make this one of his top priorities. "The most important job of the dean of science is to make sure that we create the very best faculty we can. That means having more diverse faculty — one of the biggest challenges — but at the same time, maintain very high standards."
In addition to broadening the science faculty, Kastner also plans to work on the energy initiative President Hockfield announced. "I think that President Hockfield's initiatives are the just the right things for MIT," said Kastner, "I would like to see the School of Science doing more along those lines, and new ideas will be encouraged in that direction."
During Silbey's reign as dean, Silbey hired over 80 faculty and appointed four new department heads. According to Silbey, one of these new heads was Maria Zuber, the first woman department head in the School of Science, in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Silbey also reappointed two department heads, including Kastner.
In the School of Science, Silbey began many efforts to facilitate science research by completing the renovation of the chemistry department space and building new space for the neurosciences and physics. He also launched other major research enterprises, including the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Broad Institute, and the Magellan Telescope in Chile.