Come 2013, the University will have four new deans to help lead the institution. At a Mar. 26 meeting of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, University Provost Phillip Hanlon announced that four deans — Dean of Libraries Paul Courant, Law School Dean Evan Caminker, Dentistry School Dean Peter Polverini and LSA Dean Terrence McDonald — will step down from their positions following the next school year.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Hanlon will appoint four different search committees of faculty and students to find a new dean for each school. He explained that an active University dean will help guide the committee’s recommendation and inform the committee about the role of a University dean.
Fitzgerald said each search committee will then submit three candidates to Hanlon and University President Mary Sue Coleman, who will make the final decisions.
McDonald, Caminker and Polverini, who have been deans since 2003, will have all served two five-year terms when they step down. Courant will have served a five-year term and an 18-month term.
Fitzgerald said deans normally serve two five-year terms and added that this transition is typical. He explained that Courant requested to step down after 18 months instead of completing his second five-year term.
Courant wrote in an e-mail interview that during his tenure as dean, he has helped move the library into a position to take advantage of “digital technologies in the academic world.”
“It was and is a struggle and we have not moved as far as I had hoped,” Courant wrote.
Courant wrote that he is proud of his work improving the physical environment of the University libraries.
“(We were able to) create welcoming and productive spaces for students and faculty to hang out and work, and for the broader community to enjoy the libraries treasures and contributions by faculty, students and visitors,” he wrote.
After almost 30 years serving as University provost, director of the Institute of Public Policy Studies and chair of the economics department, Courant wrote that he plans to return to teaching and researching at the University.
“I want to … while I’ve still got some energy,” he wrote.
Law School Dean Caminker said he has been satisfied with his work in improving and expanding the facilities of the Law School.
“We are very pleased to have expanded and updated and modified the building spaces for appropriate 21st century legal pedagogy,” he said.
Caminker added that he helped transition the Law School to focus on teaching skills-based learning by providing opportunities for law students to have real-world clients and participate in simulation courses.
“(They are) all designed to make sure our students not only think like lawyers, but actually learn how to be lawyers so they can hit the ground running,” he said.
Caminker said he hopes his successor continues the Law School’s emphasis on the learning initiatives he promoted during his tenure.
“There are some potentially significant changes in the legal profession right now that (will) likely influence the way law schools ought to prepare students for practice,” he said.
After his service as dean, Caminker said he will step down to teach and conduct research as a faculty member at the Law School.
Polverini said he has found the success of his faculty to be the most rewarding part of being a dean. He added that he is proud of the innovative research by his faculty, commenting specifically on the research on regenerative medicine.
“Any dean measures his or her success on other peoples’ success,” he said.
Polverini said despite an increase in funding from the National Institutes of Health, tough economic conditions have made it difficult to invest in research. Still, he said the Dental School’s investments have paid off.
He added that he is glad for the independence that the administration has given him involving research programs.
“They certainly have provided some important guidance,” he said. “They have been very supportive of what we do.”
Polverini said after his tenure is finished, he would rather help shape health care policy in the dental field than return to research, adding this would require an increase in preventative care and education.
“My goal is to do something entirely different,” he said. “(I want) to try and look how we can operationalize the evolving field of perspective health care in dentistry.”
McDonald wrote in a letter to LSA faculty and staff that he is proud to have served as dean.
“I have found my time in deanship to be endlessly interesting, energizing and inspiring,” he wrote.
McDonald wrote that he feels his accomplishments include hiring distinguished faculty and expanding the number of tenure track faculty by 10 percent.
“The foundation of our success has been an enormous and continuous investment in faculty,” he wrote. “We have enlivened the intellectual atmosphere on campus.”
McDonald added that he is also pleased to have invested in the infrastructure of LSA. He stated that more than $70 million have been spent to improve classrooms and learning spaces, including $1.5 million that were invested in building a wireless network.
After nearly a decade as dean, McDonald wrote that he plans to return to teaching.
“It has been a privilege to be your dean but most importantly to me, to be, first and always, your faculty colleague,” he wrote.