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New academic leaders to help set the tone, Emmert says
August 29, 1997

The start of the academic year brings several new deans and a dozen new department heads, some recruited from other institutions, others promoted from within. In this Q&A with the Advance, Chancellor and Provost for University Affairs Mark Emmert, the chief academic officer, reflects on the role of academic leaders at the University.

How important are deans and department heads in developing the University's academic programs?

The deans and department heads will be the leading force in shaping the particular foci of each of their respective schools and departments, especially now that we have moved to a more decentralized model of management. This is a group of folks from around the country, with very diverse views and perspectives, who will use their energy and experience to lead us into the future.

What role do they play in shaping the institution as a whole?

The deans in particular, as part of my management team, help set the direction and the tone of the University environment. They are absolutely central to plotting the future course of the University.

Many of those assuming leadership now will help shepherd the University through the millennium. What do you hope they will achieve?

I hope that through their good work we'll be successful in fulfilling the promise of UConn 2000 and the Strategic Plan, so that we can combine our wonderful facilities projects with dynamic and reinvigorated academic programs.

What particular challenges do they face at this point in the University's history?

This is an extraordinarily difficult time to be an academic leader anywhere, and it is particularly challenging at a University taking very seriously the opportunity to grow and develop. It's a challenge to deal with resource constraints, make difficult programmatic decisions and continue to recruit, reward and retain the best faculty possible; those are daunting tasks.

What piece of advice would you offer to the new deans and department heads?

It's important to keep looking at the big picture. The detail and minutiae of the job can make you go crazy. The trick is to stay focused on the non-routine.

The following new deans and department heads have recently been appointed:

Kay Davidson, dean, social work; DSW City University of New York; teaching: Hunter College School of Social Work, former associate dean; specialty: role of social workers in health care; start date: July 31.

Lee Langston, interim dean, engineering; Ph.D. Stanford University; teaching: UConn; specialty: fluid mechanics, three dimensional flows and heat transfer; start date: June 1.

Richard Schwab, dean, education; Ph.D. UConn; former dean of education, Drake University; specialty: educational administration, educational technology; start date: July 31.

Robert Smith, vice provost for research and dean, graduate school; Ph.D. University of Michigan; former vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, Washington State University; specialty: medicinal chemistry; start date: August 31.

Angel de Blas, head, physiology and neurobiology; Ph.D. Indiana University; teaching: professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City; specialty: biochemistry, neurochemistry; start date: August 1.

Dipak Dey, head, statistics; Ph.D. Purdue University; teaching: UConn; specialty: Bayesian modeling, computational statistics, multivariate analysis; start date: August 23.

Howard Epstein, head, civil and environmental engineering; Ph.D. Northwestern University; teaching: UConn; specialty: structural engineering, applied mechanics; start date: July 1.

Mark Grescler, head, military science; MA Webster University, St. Louis; teaching: brigade training officer, Fort Bliss, Texas; specialty: air defense artillery; start date: August 1.

Dean Hanink, head, geography; Ph.D. University of Georgia; teaching: UConn; specialty: economic analysis of environmental issues, international trade, economic geography; start date: August 23.

Scott Hasson, head, physical therapy; Ph.D., University of Northern Colorado; teaching: professor and director of post-professional program, school of allied health sciences, Texas Women's University; specialty: exercise science, orthopedic physical therapy, muscle injury; start date: June 1.

Eric Hill, head of performance arts/associate artistic director, dramatic arts; MFA Temple University; teaching: guest faculty member at UConn; specialty: acting and directing; start date: August 23.

David Jordan, acting head, electrical and systems engineering; Ph.D. Cornell University; teaching: UConn; specialty: digital control systems; start date: July 1.

John Rourke, head, political science; Ph.D. UConn; teaching: UConn; specialty: international relations, American and comparative foreign policy; start date: June 1.

Robert Stephens, head, music; Ph.D. Indiana University, teaching: Montclair State University; specialty: music education; start date: July 1.

Richard Thornton, interim head, art and art history; MFA Cranbrook Academy of Art; teaching: UConn; specialty: graphic design; start date: August 18.

Philip Yeagle, head, molecular and cell biology; Ph.D. Duke University; teaching: professor, SUNY Buffalo; specialty: membrane structure and function, biochemistry; start date: August 23.

Susan Eisenhandler, acting director, Waterbury campus; Ph.D. UMass, Amherst; teaching: UConn; specialty: social gerontology; start date: August 23.

Carol Rusaw, acting director, Institute of Public Service; Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic; teaching: UConn; specialty: management and organization development in the public sector; start date: August 18.