April 25, 2014

Administrative Changes

President Alison Byerly emailed the following message to the campus community today:

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to announce a number of appointments to the academic administration, and to explain the nature of the new administrative roles. I am grateful to the many faculty and staff colleagues who have offered input and advice on this restructuring, and appreciate the patience of the community in awaiting these appointments.  We are very fortunate in having a strong team of colleagues to serve the academic program as we enter into an ambitious new period.

The Provost is the Chief Academic Officer of the College, and, as described in detail in my memo of March 25, also functions as a strategic partner to the President and Cabinet, with significant budgetary and other authority in addition to general oversight of the academic program. In this new structure, the Provost will retain all the promotion, tenure, and review responsibilities currently assigned to this position by the Faculty Handbook.

The current two Associate Provost positions and former Dean of the College position will be replaced with three new deans who all report directly to the Provost. The Dean of the Faculty is responsible for faculty hiring, mentoring, and development, as well as mentoring of department heads, program chairs, and committee chairs. The Dean of the Faculty will be a member of the President’s Cabinet. The Dean of Curriculum and Resources oversees departmental budgets, external reviews, and assessment efforts, sits with the Committee on Curriculum and Educational Policy, and serves as liaison to capital building projects. The Dean of Advising and Co-Curricular Programs oversees academic advising, academic support, and international study programs, as well as supporting integration of academic and residential experience for students.

As you know, the search for a new Provost is well underway. The search committee received many helpful suggestions and comments at the three open meetings that have been held for that purpose, and is using that commentary to inform the detailed position prospectus that is now being finalized. A formal job ad has already appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere, and can be seen here:

Recognizing that we are not likely to have the new Provost in place by July 1, I am very pleased to announce that Robert L. Cohn, Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, has agreed to serve as Interim Provost during the period between July 1 and the start date of the new Provost. (That start date could be any date through September 1, or if that is not possible, a date at the conclusion of the Fall term; we will not have a transition take place mid-semester).

A member of the faculty for 27 years, Bob holds a bachelor of arts degree in the history and literature of religions, with honors, from Northwestern University and a master’s and doctorate in religious studies and humanities from Stanford University. His teaching at Lafayette has included courses in the Biblical Imagination, Jewish Responses to the Holocaust, the Jewish Experience in Poland, Jewish Humor, and Love and Sex in Biblical Texts. As a faculty member of the Berman Center for Jewish Studies, he has also taught at all the LVAIC colleges. He is the recipient of the College’s Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Award (2000) and Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Lecture Award (1993).

Bob’s current research interests include biblical narrative strategies, memory and identity in Judaism, and postwar Jewish life in Poland. He is author of 2 Kings, published in 2000 by The Liturgical Press in the Berit Olam series, and The Shape of Sacred Space: Four Biblical Studies (Scholars Press, 1981). He is coauthor of Exploring the Hebrew Bible (Prentice-Hall, 1988) and coeditor of The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity (New York University Press, 1994).

Bob served as head of the Department of Religion from 1996 to 2002. He has chaired the committees on Promotion, Tenure, and Review; Curriculum and Educational Policy; and Appeal and Grievance, in addition to serving on the Committee on Faculty Academic Policy and as a Faculty Mentor. He served on the Provost Search Committee in 2005-06 and on the recent Presidential Search Committee. He has chaired the Jewish Studies Advisory Committee for more than two decades. Bob was appointed to a three-year term on the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and received its Award of Merit in 1993.

I am very grateful to Bob for agreeing to follow his retirement this spring with this additional important service to the College.

I am also very pleased to announce the appointment of Robin Rinehart, Professor of Religious Studies, as Dean of the Faculty. A member of the faculty since 1991, she holds a bachelor of arts degree in comparative religion and a master’s degree in South Asian Studies from the University of Washington, and a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She teaches courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, gender and religion, and Asian Studies. She is the recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award (2010) and Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Lecture Award (2001).

Robin’s research focuses on religious literatures of Hindus, Sikhs, and Sufis in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Her books include Debating the Dasam Granth (editor, Oxford University Press, 2011), Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice (ABC-CLIO, 2004), and One Lifetime, Many Lives: The Experience of Modern Hindu Hagiography (Scholars Press, 1999).

Robin currently serves as head of the Department of Religious Studies and chair of the Asian Studies Program. She has served as chair of the Committee on Promotion, Tenure, and Review; Ad Hoc Committee on the Tenure System (2011-12); and Ad Hoc Committee on Interdisciplinary Appointment and Review (2009). She also has been a member of the committees on Governance, Faculty Academic Policy, and Appeal and Grievance.

John Meier, current Associate Provost and Professor of Mathematics, has agreed to assume the role of Dean of Curriculum and Resources. Having joined the Lafayette faculty in 1992, John has been a valued member of the academic administration since 2010, focusing on faculty development and orientation and mentoring of new faculty. A mathematician whose research focuses on geometric group theory, he holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Virginia and master’s and doctoral degrees from Cornell University. He is the author of the book Groups, Graphs, and Trees: An Introduction to the Geometry of Infinite Groups (Cambridge University Press, 2008)John is the recipient of the Mary Louise Van Artsdalen Prize (2007), Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Award (2003), Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Lecture Award (1999), and Student Government Superior Teaching Award (1994).

Erica D’Agostino will serve as Dean of Advising and Co-Curricular Programs. A 1995 Lafayette graduate, she holds a doctorate in educational leadership, management, and policy from Seton Hall University. Since coming to Lafayette in 2007, she has served as Director of the ATTIC, as Associate Dean of the College, and then as Dean of Academic Advising. She was an integral member of the Laf360 initiative last year, and on the Presidential Task Force on the Integrated Student Experience this year. Erica received the Cyrus S. Fleck Jr. ’52 Administrator of the Year Award in 2013. Karen Clemence, as Senior Associate Dean, will be an integral part of the leadership team for Advising and Co-Curricular Programs.

I would also like to extend appreciation to Mary Roth, Simon Cameron Long Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who will be returning to the faculty after having served a very productive term as Associate Provost.  Mary has graciously agreed to stay in her role until August 1 to close out the current fiscal year and facilitate the transition of her current responsibilities.  She will continue to serve as a member of CEP’s subcommittee on assessment for the Common Course of Study.

Please join me in thanking Mary for her service and Bob for his willingness to step in as Provost while we continue our national search, and in congratulating Robin, John, and Erica as they assume new leadership roles at the College.

Alison R. Byerly, President

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