Dean of the Architecture School Alejandro Zaera-Polo has resigned from his position effective immediately, the University announced on Wednesday morning.
According to an email sent by University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 to the graduate students of the Architecture School, Zaera-Polo’s resignation “will allow him to devote greater attention to his research and other professional activities.”He will remain a professor at the Architecture School.
In the same announcement, Eisgruber explained that the school’s former dean and professor Stanley T. Allen GS ’88 will serve as acting dean until the official appointment of a successor, and Allen will also preside over a search committee that will look for a permanent replacement.
Zaera-Polo was named dean in May 2012, an appointment that caused controversy among graduate students at the time. Allen was dean of the School for 13 years before the appointment of Zaera-Polo's, who is retiring after only two years on the job. He was a visiting lecturer in architecture at the University for four years until his appointment as dean.
Professors Christine Boyer, Paul Lewis GS ’92 and Guy Nordenson will work in the search committee alongside Allen.The committee will also include two graduate students who will be selected as non-voting members.
When Zaera-Polo was first appointed, a group of graduate students, believing he was unfit for the deanship, criticized his appointment and expressed their complaint in a letter to former University President Shirley Tilghman.
“We believe that the selection of Zaera-Polo, with his previously stated objections to the core of Princeton’s pedagogical tradition of the thesis, as well as his poor course evaluations as a professor, puts the School of Architecture’s future in danger and should be reconsidered,” the students wrote at the time.
Zaera-Polo dismissed those claims in an interview with The Daily Princetonian a few days after his appointment.
The idea that he is opposed to the architectural thesis is “a rumor being spread without reason,” Zaera-Polo said. “I believe the thesis is actually one of Princeton’s most distinctive qualities as a school."
Students expressed concern at the time that the dean selection process lacked transparency.
“I think it’s good that, for the next dean search, there will be student input,” Jesse Seegers GS ’13 said. Seegers was one of the students who expressed concern in 2012. “We thought [the last dean search] was too secretive, unnecessarily.”
Eisgruber, in the announcement, thanked Zaera-Polo for his service as dean as well as Allen for assisting the transition in leadership.
Zaera-Polo deferred comment to University spokesperson Martin Mbugua, who declined to comment beyond the University press release. Allen andarchitecture professor Elizabeth Diller, who led the search committee that appointed Zaera-Polo,did not respond to requests for comment.