NSM dean search put on hold

The search for a dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has been halted pending the appointment of a new university president, according to UTD administrators.

“Even if (the search committee) puts forward a recommendation, (President Franklyn Jenifer) will not act on it,” said Larry Terry, executive vice provost. “The administration’s position is that it’s not a good idea to make the high-level appointment when the president is in transition.”

John Ferraris, who previously headed UTD chemistry department, has been acting NSM dean since August 2003 after former NSM dean Richard Caldwell resigned in February 2003 to advise construction on a new NSM building.

“Ideally, a new president will be in charge when a new dean is appointed,” said Hasan Pirkul, chair of the NSM dean search committee and School of Management dean. “Dr. Ferraris has been an excellent acting dean and that relieves pressure off the central administration to move on the decision.”

The decision to put the search on hold came after Jenifer’s resignation announcement in October 2003.

“Dr. Jenifer is respectful of the next president to let them make the high-level appointment,” Terry said.

Pirkul said the search committee had narrowed the field of candidates down to six or seven finalists, but none that necessitated immediate action.

“There is a clear appreciation of the importance of this decision,” Pirkul said. “If we were desperate and wanted to hire a dean, there were some candidates, but it’s better to take our time and find the right person than rush it.”

But, Terry said he does not believe students are at a disadvantage during the interim period.

“(NSM) continues to provide the best education for (students) in this time of transition,” Terry said.

Ferraris assures students and faculty that the school is progressing.

“Whereas it may be good to have a permanent dean, with the current situation we are doing okay,” Ferraris said. “The school is functioning and making advances. We are hiring faculty and working out space arrangements.”

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