Print This Issue

Report of the Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Dean of the School of Design
September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2

The Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Dean of the School of Design was convened by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Ron Daniels on October 30, 2007. During its four and a half months of work, the full Committee met on 10 occasions and formally reported its recommendations to the President and Provost on March 7, 2008. The Committee members were:

Terry Adkins, Fine Arts
Eugenie Birch, City and Regional Planning
William Braham, Architecture
James Corner, Landscape Architecture
Eduardo Glandt, Dean, SEAS—Chair
John Landis, City and Regional Planning
Michael Leja, History of Art
Nancy Steinhardt, East Asian Languages and Cultures

Aaron Koch (2nd year City and Regional Planning)
John Sands (3rd year Architecture PhD)

Alumni and Overseer Representatives
Keith Sachs, W’67
Nancy Goldenberg, MCP’80

The search was supported by Dr. Stephen P. Steinberg, Advisor to the President, and Judith Auerbach of the executive search firm Auerbach Associates.

The Committee and its consultants conducted informational interviews and consultative meetings with individuals and groups throughout the PennDesign community, as well as many informal contacts, in order to better understand the scope, expectations, and challenges of the Dean’s position and the opportunities facing the School of Design in the years ahead. These consultative activities included full Committee meetings with Dean Gary Hack, Associate Dean Patricia Woldar, Assistant Dean Julia Moore Converse, chairs of the School’s academic departments and programs, and directors of the School’s centers for research and professional practice; a meeting of the Chair with the PennDesign faculty; informal networking by members of the Committee with the School’s faculty and graduate students; and an open meeting for the School’s staff. The Committee also solicited advice and nominations from all faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the School via e-mail, and reviewed a variety of documents about the School, including excerpts from its recently completed self-study. 

Based upon these conversations and materials, the Committee’s charge from the President and Provost, and the Committee’s own discussions, a comprehensive document was prepared outlining the scope of the position and the challenges a new Dean will face, as well as the qualities sought in a new Dean. The vacancy was announced (and input invited from the entire Penn community) in Almanac and advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, The Economist, Hispanic Outlook, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and in some 14 other professional journals, professional association websites, and job listings. The members of the Consultative Committee were especially energetic in soliciting and recommending the names of potential candidates from the global professional design community.

The Committee sought a strategic leader with an uncompromising commitment to academic excellence in all of the School’s educational programs, professional practices, and research activities; an experienced administrator and collaborator with a global and interdisciplinary outlook and a passion for the School and its leadership in creative and interdisciplinary thinking about design, urban, and environmental issues; a strong and demonstrated commitment to diversity in all its forms; and the capacity to be an able and energetic fundraiser.

The Committee considered candidates currently working in schools of design and other academic disciplines, in professional practice, and in other fields, anywhere in the world. The Committee identified and considered some 185 active candidates, prospects, contacts, applicants, and nominees. The Committee selected 57 individuals for closer examination, and then eight semi-finalists (including three women) for interviews with the entire Committee. Based on voluntary self-identifications and other sources, we believe the initial pool contained 52 women, 133 men, and at least 6 African-Americans, 2 Latinos, 11 Asian-Americans, 44 foreign nationals, and 7 internal nominees. The members of the Consultative Committee were extremely enthusiastic about the quality of the finalists it recommended to the President and Provost for their consideration. 

On May 16, 2008 (see Almanac, May 27, 2008, Volume 54, No. 34, www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v54/n34/taylor.html), President Gutmann and Provost Daniels announced the selection of one of the candidates recommended by the Committee—Marilyn Jordan Taylor—to be the next Dean of the School of Design. Partner-in-Charge of the Urban Design and Planning Practice at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP and the first woman to serve as chairman of the firm, Taylor is internationally known for her involvement in the design of large-scale urban projects and civic initiatives. During a 35-year career with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Taylor led many of the firm’s largest and most complex projects around the world. She was also the first architect and the first woman to serve as chairman of the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research and educational institution, where she championed a renewed focus on cities, sustainable communities, and infrastructure investment. She will take office as Dean on October 1, 2008, succeeding Gary Hack, who is stepping down after completing his extremely successful 12-year term as the School’s Dean.

—Eduardo Glandt, Chair
Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Dean of the School of Design



Almanac - September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2