Joanna B. Olmsted, professor of biology and dean of faculty development in the College, was named interim Vice Provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the College Faculty.

Since July 1, Olmsted has performed duties left by Thomas LeBlanc, who left the position to accept an appointment as executive vice president and provost of the University of Miami.

“Tom and I worked very much as a team,” Olmsted said. “I already had a lot to do with faculty hiring and promotional activities.”

Vice Provost and Dean of the College Faculty is directly responsible for development and advancement, hiring and retention of faculty and matters regarding The College budget. The dean of faculty also delegates responsibility to the Dean of The College, Dean of Faculty Development, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the College and the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“Dean Olmsted is doing a superb job – she has really stepped up,” Dean of The College William Green said. “We have a strong team at [The College deans’ office]. We all work well together.”

President Joel Seligman created a search committee to seek internal and external candidates soon after LeBlanc announced he was leaving in May.

“The search committee’s job is to make sure that everyone in the UR community is aware that we’re seeking nominations,” committee chair, George Eastman Professor and chair of brain and cognitive sciences Elissa Newport said. “We want people to think about the people that they know who would be outstanding candidates and submit them to the committee.”

The search committee is made up of 12 faculty members from various disciplines across the College curriculum.

“I think it’s an outstanding committee,” Olmsted said. “The scope is excellent as far as range of disciplines and age.”

Olmsted, along with deans and other administrators, does not serve on the committee but has been referred to for knowledge of the position.

“The new dean needs to be somebody who actually enjoys working with a variety of constituencies,” Olmsted said, noting that the dean works with students, faculty, administration and staff.

Newport agrees the position requires a lot of work.

“The College’s dean’s office has a lot of expanded responsibilities – in charge of ongoing activities, but also financial aid, admissions and lots of associated things attached to The College,” she said. “We need someone who is an outstanding scholar and also has visions for the future of The College.”

Description of the position and details of important qualities can be found in the “white paper,” located on the search Web site Newport is looking forward to the development of the search process.

“We started the process in the summer with the white paper, and students were mostly not here during that period of time,” she said. “It’s just the beginning of the fall – the time we try to make more contact with students and faculty.”

In addition to Newport, also serving on the committee are Assistant Professor Clinical & Social Psychology Loisa Bennetto, Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor and Chair of Chemistry Robert K. Boeckman, Jr., Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science Gerald Gamm, Assistant Professor Electrical & Computer Engineering Wendi Heinzelman, Professor Religion & Classics Emil Homerin, Professor and Director of The Institute of Optics Wayne Knox, Gideon Webster Burbank Prof. of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy Henry Kyburg, Jr., Associate Professor Linguistics Jeffrey Runner, Professor Physics & Astronomy Paul L. Tipton, Associate Professor English Jeffrey Tucker, and Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering Richard Waugh.

The committee is currently in the collection stages of the search. All members of the UR community are invited to submit nominations and suggestions to the committee, who can be reached by e-mail,

“We will have a procedure to seek input from students and staff members – we’re still trying to figure out a good way to do that,” she said.

After applications are taken and input is considered, the committee will begin the procedure of gradually narrowing down the candidate pool, consulting reading materials, references and interviews, among other methods. The committee hopes to make a recommendation to the President by the end of the semester.

“We’d like to be able to have a dean selected who has accepted the position early enough in this academic year that the person has time to get to know The College and the university,” Newport said.

Borchardt can be reached at

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