NICOLAS KEMPER (M.ARCH I ’16)
‘Some of our peer institutions have taken the opportunity of the search to self-destruct,” said Keller Easterling, chair of the Dean Selection Committee, as she and its other members – Michelle Addington, Steven Harris, John Jacobson, and Bimal Mendis, sat and solicited students’ thoughts on Bob’s successor.
While she allowed that “We are seeing this as a new chapter,” Keller pointed out that in many respects the school has never been in a better position, and the committee does not plan on “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”
President Salovey will ultimately make the choice, the committee only advises. Indeed in 1998 President Levin chose Robert Stern against the advice of the committee. Salovey, who we expect to be more deferential, asked for candidate committed to the profession and the academy. Keller shared they want one who will be good at fundraising and has “a track record,” and she emphasized that the committee primarily sees the exercise as stocktaking, asking “How do we prepare people who we graduate to become leaders in the profession?”
For us the exercise must remain intellectual, as they emphasized that before the announcement (expected by this fall) there never will be an official list, as “Speculation is the fastest way to lose good candidates.”
Certainly the new Dean will have latitude to implement an agenda: Keller revealed that Bob has held off on filling open faculty positions, so the next Dean will be able to go on a hiring spree.
There were a few themes among the comments: 1) We want more opportunities for student leadership, with smaller and more numerous grants, more support for student organizations, and, well, lunch. 2) We want a more porous institution: students asked for a study abroad exchange program, firms from outside New York, and more ties to Latin America. 3) We want to see a stronger sense of social responsibility, with more of an emphasis on ecology, a larger acceptance of regional architecture as a worthwhile career.
There was some disagreement as to whether the Dean should have a practice, with SAMANTHA JAFF (M.Arch I ‘16) floated the idea of a full time Dean, and ADAM WAGONER (M.Arch II ‘15) saying that while we do not need to hire “the head of HOK (M.Arch & Urban Design U. Illinois ’67 PATRICK MACLEAMY),” he does want “someone involved in making things, for to think deeply and make physical objects, I hope it will always be part of the school”
EUGENE TAN (M.Arch I ‘16) asked simply for a dean engaged with and savvy in social media, who could get student work more exposure. Said Keller, “I am going to guess that almost any candidate will be savvier with social media.”