Resignation of Dean Rosemary Stevens

In a September 1 letter to President Judith Rodin, and another on September 3 to the SAS faculty, Dr. Rosemary Stevens has announced her decision to leave office at the end of her first five-year term, the resignation to become effective on selection of an interim dean.

"When Sheldon Hackney offered me the deanship of the School of Arts and Sciences in 1991, I assured him that I would serve for five years," Dean Stevens wrote. "These five years ended on August 31, 1996." Referring to summer discussions about continuing in office for another year, Dr. Stevens added, "I greatly appreciate the confidence in my deanship that you have expressed in suggesting this. However, sober reflection has convinced me that it is better that I stick to my original intention as far as possible."

A key factor in the timing of her return to the faculty full-time, Dr. Stevens explained, is that she has been asked to prepare a new, 25th anniversary edition of one of her major works, American Medicine and the Public Interest . "Given the strains and stresses in medicine and health since 1971, as well as the wealth of relevant research, this task is going to take an enormous amount of work, and I am anxious to begin," she said in her letter to the SAS faculty September 3.

President Rodin and Provost Stanley Chodorow accepted the Dean's resignation with a mixture of "regret at your departure from the dean's office; gratitude for all you have accomplished at SAS; and pleasure that you will resume your role as an outstanding member of our faculty." In a memo to SAS faculty they said they will "immediately look to appoint an interim dean and, in short order, form a search committee to appoint a permanent successor to Rosemary."

The Dean told the faculty in her September 3 letter that she believes it is "a good time for the School to go through administrative transition. We have completed the strategic planning cycle....We have a superb, experienced group of deputy and associate deans. And we have an equally talented and committed group of faculty serving as chairs, as program center directors, and on SAS committees. President Rodin's support of arts and sciences, and her fundamental understanding of what the arts and sciences are all about, will ensure the School's continuing success under a new dean."

Dean Stevens, who came to the deanship as professor and chair of the history and sociology of science, has served longer than any other dean of SAS* since the School was created in the 'seventies by combining Penn's undergraduate and graduate arts and sciences programs and incorporating some disciplines that had been lodged in the Wharton School (economics, political science and sociology among them).

Dr. Stevens is recognized for her advocacy of a broad mission of arts and sciences, as well as for developing new instructional programs, funding student research fellowships, and developing faculty in Asian-American and Latin-American Studies, among other initiatives. "Graduate education has been on a roller-coaster everywhere, but SAS has maintained very high standards and wide choice of programs while substantially decreasing the number of students and trying to fund more of them" the President and Provost said.

Citing administrative changes such as establishing departmental visiting committees, Dr. Rodin and Dr. Chodorow also praised the Dean's strengthening of SAS relationships with other schools and divisions--e.g., by establishing the College/Wharton undergraduate major in international studies and business; strengthening the graduate Lauder program; supporting joint institutes with SEAS, LRSM, and IRCS; establishing the multi-school French Institute; and launching several initiatives not yet announced. "The University and we are deeply in your debt," they concluded: "You have our thanks, and thanks from the entire Penn community, for a job well done."

From the Dean to Dr. Rodin

. . . . During my five years as dean, I have emphasized the central role of the School: I know you agree that SAS is the very heart of the University. To sustain and strengthen the School, I have given every support possible to our excellent faculty, encouraged their creativity and inventiveness, pushed for new associations with other schools and advocated new priorities. Always aware of the School's pressing financial needs, I have spent a good deal of time "on the road" raising funds. In this regard, I am very pleased that the School's major fund drive in the recent Campaign for Penn was successful in meeting its high target ($250 million); among many wonderful and important gifts, SAS raised 38 endowed chairs. As you know only too well, still more needs to be done.

I have tried to deal honestly with the budget situation as it has developed through three University administrations since 1991. Again, you know only too well, these have been years of constant budget cutting, as at many other universities. Downsizing the standing faculty from 498 in 1991 to 454 in 1996 has been painful, and I am full of appreciation to the faculty, who have proved realistic and resourceful in the face of such changes. During the period of attrition, we have been mindful of Penn's commitment to a faculty which is both world-class and diverse.

Excerpt from letter, 9/1/96

* The first dean, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, served 4 1/2 years, becoming provost in January 1979; he is now president of Brown University. His successor as dean was Dr. Robert Dyson, who after two years was elected director of the University Museum. The next dean, Dr. Joel Conarroe, a former Penn English professor who had left to become executive director of the MLA, served as dean for two years, 1982-84, before taking his present post as head of the Guggenheim Foundation. Dr. Michael Aiken was named dean in May 1985 and Provost two years later; he has since become president of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. The only external dean, Dr. Hugo Sonnenschein, served in 1988-1991; he returned to Princeton as its provost and later became president of the University of Chicago. -- K.C.G.


Volume 43 Number 3
September 10, 1996

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