Dean finalists announced for Computing, Sciences

Photo by Maria Furukawa

The search for a new Dean of Science and new Dean of Computing is rapidly drawing to the close with the recent announcement of the finalist candidates for the positions. Three well qualified individuals have been chosen by the Dean of Sciences search committee, a body made up of more than a dozen Institute faculty members. Four individuals were selected as finalists by the Dean of Computing search committee.

The candidates will present their plans for the schools that they will oversee at open seminars held in the Global Learning Center and Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons throughout the months of February and March, with the final decision and announcement of the next Dean of Science and Dean of Computing coming in May of this year. 

The three finalist candidates for the position of Dean of Sciences are Susan Lozier, Rodolfo Torres and Kevin Pitts, all three qualified academics. Lozier teaches at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where she is a distinguished professor in ocean sciences, and has won a number of prizes in geophysics. Torres is a distinguished professor at the University of Kansas, most recently holding the position of President at the University of Kansas Center for research. Pitts is a professor at the University of Illinois, where he researches experimental high energy physics, working at large particle accelerators to do so.

The four finalists for the Dean of Computing are Charles Isbell, Kathleen Fisher, Radha Poovendran and Ellen Zegura. Isbell and Zegura are current faculty members of the Institute, the former is a professor and Executive Associate Dean in the College of Computing; the latter is the Fleming Professor in the School of Computer Science. Fisher is the Chair of the Computer Science department at Tufts University, and previously worked for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, as well as AT&T Labs, with her research focusing on “advancing the theory and practice of programming languages”. Poovendran is a professor and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, and the recipient of several awards for excellence in teaching.

The search committees began in August of 2018, and are composed of dozens of Institute faculty and administrative members coming. The members of the committees are both well versed in the subject matter of the colleges which the Deans will be charged with leading, as well as in the particulars of leading a campus organization. The candidates were put through a careful vetting process in order to ensure that they had the qualifications to carry out the duties of a Dean well. The purpose of the open seminars given by the candidates is to open up the selection process to the campus as a whole; the seminars will allow the candidates to announce their intentions and plans as well as to receive feedback from their potential students and faculty.  

The position of Dean of Sciences is currently held by David Collard, after Paul Goldbart  stepped down from the position in August of 2018 in order to take the position of Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at UT Austin. Collard has received top teaching awards during his tenure at the Institute, has successfully mentored dozens of masters and Ph.D. students, as well as continuously producing research in the field of polymer chemistry. 

The position of Dean of Computing is currently held by Zvi Galil, who will be stepping down in May. Galil has held the position since 2010, and was instrumental in the introduction of the Online Master of Science in Computer Science program, which has been a success. His tenure has been marked by growth in the College of Computing, as the number of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in computer science more than doubled, to 2,394 undergraduate students in 2018–19.