ASG gives students a role in choosing next Weinberg dean

By Joseph Salvo

Students and faculty convened Tuesday at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art for “Voice Your Opinion,” an open forum dedicated to the search for the next dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. The event was sponsored by NU’s Associated Student Government to give students an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns.

Currently, Mark Ratner of the Chemistry Department is acting as temporary Dean of Weinberg for the 2014-2015 school year, but following the submission of a list of chosen candidates, a second committee from the office of the provost will make a final selection.

A major theme in the discussion was the disconnect between Weinberg students and faculty under previous deans. The dialogue began with general specifics regarding the selection process and the desired characteristics for the new dean, but quickly moved on to more controversial topics.

“I’ve tried to pierce that barrier repeatedly,” said mathematics Professor Ezra Getzler. “Compared with my experience at other universities, it’s astonishingly difficult.”

Other students and professors recognized this issue but believed it could be resolved, as long as the different needs of different majors are addressed.

Panelists added that they were looking for “a dean that can build community across disciplines and across communities,” but there were also concerns that different student groups would be neglected.

“Depending on what [students] are involved with on campus, what they’re studying, etcetera, their experiences differ,” said Sofia Sami, Weinberg Class of 2014.

A few audience members suggested adding more students to the search committee, which currently includes only one student member, or allowing students to interview the candidates. Others thought that faculty could represent the interests of future classes.

“I’ve taught undergraduates for 26 years,” said committee chair and English Professor Mary Wall. “I do have a very deep knowledge of the different problems that students have encountered as they’ve gone through Northwestern.”

ASG President Julia Watson agreed that future classes should be considered when choosing a dean. “This [decision] has huge implications for people who’ll come after us for an extended amount of time,” she said. “As a graduating senior, I want to hear where this dean will take the school.”

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