UR President Joel Seligman announced Monday the selection of the newest member of the university’s administration, Dean of the Faculty Peter Lennie.

Lennie rejoins UR after a seven-year absence during which he served as Dean for Science at New York University. Prior to working at NYU, Lennie was Chair of the UR Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

“We are privileged that [Lennie] will be returning to Rochester as Dean,” Seligman said.

He continued, saying, “I have been impressed by his honesty, his decency, his commitment to academic excellence and his thoughtfulness in analyzing the many issues that we have presented.”

Although Lennie’s highest profile work was at NYU, he served most of his academic career at UR, first as Associate Professor of Psychology and Visual Sciences in 1982. From there, he rose to eventually be named Dean of Academic Resources and Planning in 1991.

Lennie is pleased to have a chance to contribute to UR again. “It’s an irresistibly attractive conjunction of opportunities and challenges that brought me here,” Lennie said. “What draws me in is the way in which the college has been brought by this marvelous partnership between faculty, staff and students to this position of great strength and is poised for growth and even greater distinction in the future.”

The seven-month search for a new Dean of Faculty began when former Dean of Faculty Thomas LeBlanc assumed the role of Executive Vice President and Provost of the University of Miami on July 1.

In the interim, Professor of Biology Joanna Olmsted filled the post while awaiting the search committee’s decision.

The committee was composed of prominent UR personalities such as Associate Professor of Political Science Gerald Gamm, Brain and Cognitive Science Professor Elissa Newport and Religion and Classics Professor Emil Homerin.

“Peter Lennie will be a remarkable leader for the College,” Newport said. “Everyone who met him during our search process was impressed with his keen analytic abilities and his visionary approach to planning for the future. We are thrilled that we’ve persuaded him to return to Rochester and to lead us in our exciting next steps.”

Lennie looks forward to meeting the challenges of a growing university. “The university has done a remarkable job of retaining its strong and distinguished faculty,” Lennie said. “I am looking forward to working with all of them.”

Although his title refers to the faculty alone, Lennie intends to create an environment in which he works not only for the faculty but for all members of the university community.

“I very much want to engage with students and understand what their issues are,” Lennie said. “The students are central stakeholders in the success of the college.”

At his introduction on Monday, Lennie was warmly greeted by students and faculty members. After President Seligman delivered brief remarks about the search process and about the new dean, Lennie introduced himself to his colleagues both new and old.

“Lennie is a wonderful choice,” President Emeritus Thomas Jackson said. “Here is an individual who is deeply familiar with UR, and thus understands what makes us special.”

Despite his almost exclusively science-related background, Lennie expects to be effective in his role as dean of the faculty from the very beginning.

“I hope to demonstrate to people that I have absorbed much knowledge about the other divisions of the College,” Lennie said. “I view administration as being a partnership between the right people with the right mix of talents.”

Lennie, a graduate of both the University of Hull and of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, begins his second Rochester term on July 1.

“When you move to a new position, it could take several months to fully master the personal contacts,” Lennie said. “I am hoping to get a leg up on that with my knowledge of the institution.”

Although Lennie is not currently able to enumerate any specific changes he will make over the next 6 months, he looks forward to the day-to-day challenges that his position offers him. “I am very excited,” Lennie said. “I’m really delighted to be back.”

Majarian can be reached at


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