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Stan Sclaroff embodies the philosophy of a liberal arts education. An accomplished computer scientist, he majored in that subject at Tufts—as well as in English.
“I loved both subjects very much from the start,” Sclaroff says. “In the end, it seems less important what majors I combined; instead, it’s the combining that mattered most.… All the reading and learning about methods of critique in my English major honed my appreciation for good writing. It also led me to see and seek out the interconnectedness between contemporaneous movements in literature, politics, philosophy, science, and the arts—how different disciplines inform and feed each other.”
The Renaissance man has been named dean of BU’s liberal arts citadel, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, following a nationwide search. Sclaroff, a CAS professor of computer science, has served as dean ad interim during the just-ended 2018–2019 academic year.
“As Dean ad interim, Professor Sclaroff has continued to advance the important efforts of the College, providing strong and consistent leadership,” Jean Morrison, University provost, said in a letter announcing the appointment to CAS faculty and staff. “In light of his performance and established reputation, his talent for organization-building and track record of collaborative leadership, and his strong commitment to improving diversity and the climate of inclusion within the College, we believe Professor Sclaroff is the right person to lead CAS to even greater levels of excellence.”
In his letter to the search committee applying for the permanent deanship, Sclaroff wrote of the key challenge he’d face as dean, noting that CAS is at “a pivotal moment in its history” as the University updates its strategic plan for the next decade.
In that process, he wrote, BU will seek “to reimagine the ways in which disciplinary boundaries can be made more permeable, encouraging more collaboration between interdisciplinary units and traditional departments. CAS is a long-standing innovator and partner in interdisciplinary research and education…”
In reviewing tenure and promotion cases during the last year, Sclaroff wrote, he saw the next generation of “outstanding scholars who work at the intersection of multiple traditional disciplines. In strategic planning for CAS, it will be important to recognize that multidisciplinary work and collaboration manifests itself in many forms and at various scales—from larger-scale centers and institutes, to smaller-scale multidisciplinary centers and programs, down to the individual level.”
Continuing the college’s efforts to both boost faculty diversity and communicate the importance of a liberal arts education, in an era when some question its value, he wrote, also top his bucket list as dean.
Sclaroff became dean ad interim of CAS—the largest of BU’s 17 schools and colleges—following the departure last summer of Ann Cudd, who left BU to become provost at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been on the CAS faculty since 1995, and during that time he was associate dean of the faculty for mathematical and computational sciences. He also chaired the computer science department from 2007 to 2013.
An internationally respected scholar, Sclaroff founded the computer science department’s Image and Video Computing Group, a research initiative into machine learning, human-computer interaction, and computer vision (which seeks to automate functions performed by the human visual system). He developed one of the first content-based image retrieval systems, which uses computer vision to search for visual images in large databases.
Sclaroff also holds an appointment in the College of Engineering electrical and computer engineering department. He earned a PhD from MIT and has authored almost 50 journal articles and is the coauthor of the book Visual Saliency: From Pixel-Level to Object-Level Analysis (Springer, 2019).