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Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Riepe Faculty Master Dennis DeTurck is best known for hosting cookie nights and helping students math.

Credit: Morgan Rees

According to an email sent to the School of Arts and Sciences faculty, students and staff Tuesday morning, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dennis DeTurck will be on sabbatical leave during the spring 2017 semester.

Andrew Binns, biology professor and former Vice Provost for Education, will serve as interim dean of the College effective Jan. 1, 2017.

"[DeTurck’s] leave from the College deanship will be a short break from a role in which Dennis has served with extraordinary devotion since 2005, as an energetic champion for undergraduate education in the liberal arts at Penn,” the email sent by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Steven Fluharty read.

DeTurck is also a math professor and the Faculty Director of Riepe College House. As Faculty Director of Riepe, where he has lived since 2009, he is well-known for hosting cookie nights on Wednesdays.

Binns previously served as Vice Provost for Education from 2006 to 2015 and Chair of the Department of Biology from 1995 to 2004. He has been a faculty member at Penn since 1980.

The dean of the College is responsible for undergraduate curricula, programs and students in the School of Arts and Sciences. The dean also directs the College Office and works with the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences on planning and priorities for undergraduate arts and sciences education.

In an email to undergraduate chairs and program directors in the College, DeTurck expressed confidence in Binns's abilities and gratitude for the support he received for his decision to take a sabbatical. 

"Andy and I have worked closely together over many years, but especially while he was Vice Provost for Education. With Andy at the helm, I expect College business to continue without skipping a beat," DeTurck wrote in the email, which he later sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

In his email, Fluharty wrote Binns was a “steadfast supporter of the College” and “close partner to Dennis” during his tenure as Vice Provost for Education.

“I am confident that with Andy’s interim leadership and the continued support of the outstanding College staff, the College will have a productive semester,” Fluharty wrote.