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Search underway for Dean Russel’s replacement

A search committee has been formed to find the replacement for Dean of the Graduate School William Russel, who announced on Sept. 11that he would be retiring at the end of this academic year. The committee, whose members were appointed by University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, is chaired by electrical engineering professor and Vice Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Claire Gmachl.

“A month into the search is when things will become much more substantial,” Gmachl said, noting that the search process has just begun. “At this point, [everything] we can do is plan meetings and listen to who people suggest.”


The search will ideally be completed in one semester, Gmachl said. “My goal is to wrap it up within the fall term to give the new person enough time to get started with the new students coming in next year, but we’ll take all the time it needs to find the right person,” she added.

Gmachl said that people have been suggesting candidates since the announcement of Russel’s retirement but that it was far too early to provide the names of potential candidates. She explained that the position is open to candidates from all disciplines and that the new graduate school dean would be responsible for a variety of tasks.

“The dean has to promote, design [and] put in place the very best graduate program that we can have at Princeton, and that includes curricula development and oversight,” Gmachl said. “[The position] also looks at student life; it looks at the diversity of the program, and it is also important that the graduate program meshes well with the overall mission, goal [and] activities of the University.”

According to Jamie Ferrare, managing principal of the higher education search committee consulting firm AGB Search, search committees tend to look for people who are collaborative, inclusive, respectful and accepting of others’ ideas when seeking to fill higher education administrative positions.

“With that as kind of a general theme, I think you have to get specific,” he said of universities’ preferences for candidates. “Some schools are looking for very specific skill sets based on the needs they might have, and so you have to really honor that.”

According to Graduate Student Government president Friederike Funk GS,Russel was very active in improving conditions for students of the Graduate School both in the academic and social spheres.


“I think he did an amazing job. He was a very great dean of the Graduate School, and I hope that the person who will be the next dean will just continue his great work,” she said. “He was genuinely interested in graduate students and their concerns and really genuinely interested in our success as well.”

The new dean should be approachable and interested in the personal experiences of the graduate students, Funk said. She said she remembered times when Russel had held dinners with graduate students and met with the GSG to listen to graduate student concerns. She added that she hoped the new dean would do the same.

A job description for the position will be available in the near future, Gmachl said.


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