CAS Seeks New Leader

International firm Korn/Ferry joins community in search

January 30, 2007
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Charles Griswold, chair of the Arts and Sciences dean search committee. Photo by Frank Curran

The search committee charged with finding a successor to current College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Jeffrey Henderson is looking for an innovative, dynamic, and collaborative leader to head BU’s largest academic unit.

But that’s not all. The future dean must also be committed to enhancing the diversity of the faculty and the student body, possess a record of distinguished scholarly achievements, and have a clear understanding of a liberal arts and sciences college within a large, comprehensive research university with a global reach.

Henderson will step down at the end of the academic year.

So far, the committee has made “rapid progress,” says Charles Griswold, who chairs the CAS department of philosophy and the search committee. The group has compiled a job description, posted the position, and chosen a search firm.

The successful candidate, according to Griswold, will have considerable administrative, fundraising, and alumni relations experience at the departmental level or as a dean and a demonstrated commitment to excellence in graduate and faculty research, as well as in undergraduate and graduate teaching and service.

“The job is a very demanding one,” Griswold says. “The college and graduate school together form the University’s largest academic unit, enrolling approximately 7,600 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students.” He points out that CAS/GRS is home to nearly 50 advanced degree programs, 33 institutes and centers, and more than 700 full-time, tenured, or tenure-track faculty who teach in 24 departments, representing the full range of disciplines in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

“We are searching for a person who can manage so large and complex an enterprise, while also raising funds, providing intellectual leadership and judgment, and advocating for the college and the graduate school,” he adds. “Both internal and external candidates will be considered with equal seriousness.”

The committee compiled the job description after thoroughly researching the demands of the position. “For example,” says Griswold, “we have studied the college’s achievements, challenges, and financial condition both by poring over relevant documents and by meeting with the president, the provost, the dean of CAS, four CAS associate deans, the chair of the strategic planning task force, the vice president for development and alumni relations, and representatives of both the undergraduate and graduate student organizations.”

The search committee also invited a dozen senior women faculty of CAS to join in a frank discussion about issues facing women colleagues and about the skills and commitments required of a new dean to respond to those issues successfully. A subcommittee met with the CAS chairs and addressed the faculty at its November meeting.

"We hope that these steps put us in a position to answer a candidate’s questions in a detailed and knowledgeable way, while also increasing the transparency and outreach of the search,” Griswold notes.

The challenges of CAS, according to Provost David Campbell, “are to continue to grow in excellence, to enhance further the quality of its curriculum and teaching and its research, and to offer still greater opportunities to its students. To achieve these goals, the new dean will need to work not only with the senior administration and the CAS faculty but also with fellow deans in other colleges.”

Appointed by CAS faculty, Campbell, and the Faculty Council, the search committee is made up of students, faculty, staff, and members from outside the college. The committee’s goal is to have a new dean in place by September 2007, although it is prepared to extend the search further to find the right person. A Web site that includes a mail-to function for suggestions has been an “excellent vehicle for communication with the community,” says Griswold. “We are attempting to conduct an open, transparent, and inclusive search consistent with the normal requirements of confidentiality. It is very possible that the next dean will be located by a CAS colleague, student, or alumnus, and we therefore urge all members of the community to put the word out and to help us develop a pool of excellent candidates. Inclusiveness is important for that reason as well.”

Last month the committee posted the job description, which has been published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Women in Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and online at The committee, which has been meeting since October, has also chosen a search firm: Korn/Ferry International in Boston, represented by its senior client partner, David Mead-Fox.

Mead-Fox has met with the search committee several times, as well as with Henderson, Campbell, and President Robert Brown. Mead-Fox “knows Boston University well and brings to the search a detailed knowledge of the field of candidates, a seasoned and steady capacity for judgment, and an ability to communicate effectively,” Griswold says.

Inquiries, nominations, and applications should be sent to David Mead-Fox, Senior Client Partner, Korn/Ferry International, 265 Franklin St., 17th Floor, Boston, MA 02110 (617-345-0200). Materials should be submitted via e-mail to

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CAS Seeks New Leader