Almost eight months after former LSA Dean Shirley Neuman announced she was leaving the University of Michigan to become provost of the University of Toronto, a search committee chaired by sociology Prof. James House continues to scourer the nation for Neuman’s replacement.

House said the committee, comprised of eight faculty members, two students and one LSA staff member, has been meeting since October and plans to conclude its work in the spring. He added its goal is to have a new dean in place by the beginning of the 2003-2004 academic year. The committee only has the power to nominate candidates to Provost Paul Courant, who will ultimately take one final candidate to the University Board of Regents for approval.

“Obviously, it is everyone’s goal to find a dean as quickly as possible, but no one is willing to speed up the process inappropriately,” said chemistry Prof. James Penner-Hahn, a member of the search committee.

House said the committee is in the process of laying out a position paper, which examines the various qualifications it is looking for in a new dean. “We are currently in the process of outreach,” House said, adding the committee is now meeting with students and faculty members to gain their input in regard to the search.

House said one of the current problems with the LSA dean’s office is the continuous turnover in the last five years. Since former Dean Edie Goldenberg stepped down in 1998, psychology Prof. Patricia Gurin served as interim dean for one year, Neuman had a three- year tenure and history Prof. Terry McDonald is currently serving as interim dean.

Although House would not say whether McDonald is being considered, many faculty members said they think very highly of him.

“He’s doing a fine job within the constraints of the budget,” political science Prof. Daniel Levine said. “He’s a person who many of us have confidence in.”

One of the main objectives of the search committee is to find someone who is willing to devote a considerable amount of time to the position, around five or 10 years, House said.

“There is a clear desire to get someone who will be committed to the job for a reasonable period of time,” he said. “If we were to continue to turn things over at the rate of one every two or three years, I think that’s a little too fast.”

House said he thought internal candidates tend to meet more of a criterion for commitment. He noted that the two LSA deans before Neuman, Edie Goldenberg and Peter Steiner, were previously professors at the University. Goldenberg and Steiner each served for approximately nine years. Neuman, who held the position for only three years, was previously a dean at the University of British Columbia. He added that Neuman was the first LSA dean to come from outside of the University since the 1960s.

But House said the committee will look at internal and external candidates, and stability will not be the only factor looked at. “We want to make sure … that we try to get the best possible person,” he said.

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