In the wake of the Monday appointment of Ronald Daniels as the new University provost, faculty and deans are excited for the arrival of their newest colleague.
Still, College Dean Dennis DeTurck said he was "a little bit" surprised at the appointment, given that Interim Provost Peter Conn has worked in the provost's office since 1999 and is familiar with the territory.
"Peter Conn has been serving ably and effectively in his capacity as interim provost," DeTurck said. "On the other hand, I know that the [search] committee was working hard at doing ... an international search."
External appointments are not unusual, however.
"We have over the years had many provosts who were appointed from the outside," Art History Department Chairman David Brownlee said. "It's quite a common thing."
Law School Dean Michael Fitts has had some contact with Daniels -- who is currently dean of the University of Toronto law school.
"He's been a really excellent dean at Toronto," Fitts said. "Toronto is the premier law school in Canada, but he as dean has really brought it to the next level."
Fitts also said that Daniels should have no problem adjusting to an American institute of higher education.
"I think he is known for having Americanized Toronto Law School," Fitts said. "He really upgraded the student body, the faculty and the curriculum. He's moved it in a much more international direction, he's been an excellent fundraiser and he's drawn a lot of connections to the American legal system."
School of Nursing Dean Afaf Meleis also praised Daniels' international appeal, saying that his global outlook resonates well with the goals of the school.
DeTurck commended Gutmann's selection of Daniels as dean, since the two will represent the combination of the professional and the academic.
"That's part of Penn's identity," DeTurck said. "It worked very well with [former Provost Robert] Barchi and [former President Judith] Rodin."
Barchi was a faculty member at the School of Medicine.
Faculty members are not concerned that Daniels will place too much emphasis on Penn's role in professional education.
"I don't have any concerns about that because everyone is concerned to avoid it," Brownlee said.
Political Science Department Chairman Rogers Smith agreed.
"I am confident that ... the central focus of Penn will be on research, scholarship and teaching," especially with the leadership of Gutmann and School of Arts and Sciences Dean Rebecca Bushnell, Smith said.
Faculty and deans are also confident that Daniels' field of study will be a positive addition to the administration.
"Law schools are sort of natural integrators of fields," Fitts said. "Ron will be really well-positioned to interact with all of the different schools in the University."
Though Barchi was a health sciences scholar, Meleis welcomes the administrative change.
"We have worked for a year now with the interim provost, Peter Conn, so [the provost's field of study] didn't really matter," Meleis said of working with Conn -- an English professor -- over the past year.
"We do want a provost that thinks about the whole University rather than one part of a University or another."Comments powered by Disqus
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