Seven-month search for CLA dean ends with regents’ OK

by Brian Bakst

The seven-month search for a College of Liberal Arts dean officially ended Monday when the Board of Regents approved the appointment of University of Michigan professor Steven Rosenstone.
Rosenstone will head the University’s largest college, which has about 14,000 undergraduate students. Many people involved in the search process say Rosenstone’s knowledge of the University will help him address the numerous challenges he will face as CLA dean.
Sarah Evans, chairwoman of the dean search committee, said she was overwhelmed by how much Rosenstone knew about the University and Minnesota. “It seemed like he knew more about us than we knew about him.”
Rosenstone is well-versed in general trends affecting higher education and trends at the University, such as decreasing state funds for education, Evans said. State funding for the University has declined steadily in recent years, going from nearly 50 percent of the University’s budget in 1991 to less than 39 percent today.
As dean, Rosenstone will work to implement part of University President Nils Hasselmo’s restructuring plan, University 2000. For example, Rosenstone will administer the college’s switch from quarters to semesters, a component of U2000 set to be completed by the fall of 1998.
Rosenstone said that CLA is at a critical moment.
Many CLA faculty members said morale was at an all-time low after W. Phillips Shively, provost for Arts, Sciences and Engineering, announced in December that the contract of former Dean Julia Davis would not be renewed. Davis, who didn’t anticipate Shively’s decision, resigned rather than continue as dean until her contract’s completion in June. Two CLA associate deans resigned after Shively’s announcement, making some faculty members say they felt vulnerable in an atmosphere of change.
But Rosenstone said he thinks morale has already improved. “Over the past year there has been a clear sense of rededication and renewal among the faculty,” he wrote in an e-mail message.
“I look forward to fostering an environment that will allow the faculty to fulfill their creative potential as scholars, artists and teachers.”
Those involved with the selection of Rosenstone said his enthusiasm brought him many supporters. “He gave some people a real sense of hope and possibility that he is the type of leader that can mobilize us,” Evans said.
Describing his administrative philosophy, Rosenstone wrote he will encourage teamwork and long-term planning. Davis criticized the University in January for implementing new policies just for the sake of change.
Much of Rosenstone’s plans for improving CLA are built upon existing programs. He wrote that the University differs from other state universities because of its large commitment to research. “First-rate scholarship, basic research and artistic achievement must remain at the forefront of CLA’s mission,” he added.
Rosenstone also emphasized the need to improve the success rates of minority students and the retention of minority faculty members.
With a starting salary of $144,000, Rosenstone will take over Oct. 15 as dean.