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McLaughlin P’12 named dean of faculty

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, May 27, 2011

Professor of English Kevin McLaughlin P’12, English department chair and interim chair of the German Studies department, will replace Rajiv Vohra P’07 as dean of the faculty starting in July, Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98 wrote in an email to the community May 27.

Though McLaughlin’s term begins July 1, he will not start work until August 1 because he will be doing research in France through July.

McLaughlin was chosen by incoming provost Mark Schlissel P’15 in consultation with Kertzer and President Ruth Simmons. Though there were many “spectacular” candidates for the position, the three agreed on McLaughlin, Schlissel said.

McLaughlin said Kertzer personally invited him to apply in a phone call. McLaughlin’s experiences in administrative work initially led him to consider the position, he said, and he decided to take it after talking to Simmons and other members of the administration.

“I had this really unambiguous impression from the president on down of taking advantage of what will be a real opportunity for Brown in the next few years,” he said.

Schlissel, who held the positions of dean of biological sciences and professor of immunology and pathogenesis at the University of California at Berkley before accepting the position of provost in April, said his experience in the sciences made it important to choose a candidate who has “experience and expertise and understanding for what it would take to promote scholarship in the humanities.”

Schlissel also cited McLaughlin’s on-campus leadership in the departments of English and German Studies, as well as his involvement in dealing with “leadership issues” in the classics department.

The search committee, which Kertzer chaired, solicited nominations and then narrowed the candidates to four finalists. Schlissel then flew to Providence to make the final decision.

McLaughlin will be succeeded in German studies by Gerhard Richter, who is currently professor of German and the director of the graduate program in critical theory at the University of California at Davis. McLaughlin said a new chair for the Department of English has not yet been identified, but he has begun soliciting nominations from the department. The English department chair will be identified by Vohra, who does not leave his position until the end of June, though McLaughlin said he will likely provide input on the decision.

The position of senior associate dean of the faculty will also be left vacant July 1 with the departure of Carolyn Dean, who will become the interim director of the Watson Institute for International Studies. McLaughlin said he will speak with people “across the University” before appointing a new senior associate dean.

Though McLaughlin and Schlissel will both be new to their positions, Vohra and Kertzer have laid a solid framework, McLaughlin said. “They are clearly going to be able to help us, and that’s particularly the case with Dean Vohra, because he’ll be on campus,” he said. The positions of dean of the faculty and provost are “very integrated” in their dealings with academic and faculty issues.

Though “there’s always something to be said for experience,” Kertzer said he anticipates Schlissel and McLaughlin will bring a fresh perspective to their positions.

There will likely be “multiple people shuffling around” with the changes in leadership, Schlissel said. Such changes would likely be related to creating an optimal working relationship between offices, McLaughlin said.

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