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Dean of Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni resigns, will return to teaching

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Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni will step down from his position at the conclusion of the 2021 spring semester, having served since July 2017.

Kulkarni, who joined the University faculty in 1991 and holds the title of William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Electrical Engineering, will return to teaching and research after the end of his tenure in the administration.


“It was a pleasure and an honor to work with so many outstanding faculty members, academic professionals, administrators, and University leadership to help build the extraordinary scholarly community that we have at Princeton,” Kulkarni wrote in an email statement to the ‘Prince.’ “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve in this role.  But I think there is no better place to serve as a faculty member, and I am looking forward to getting back to research and teaching.”

University Provost Deborah A. Prentice, who also served as dean of the faculty prior to Kulkarni, praised his performance in the role.

“It was wonderful to work with [Kulkarni],” Prentice told the ‘Prince.’ “He is a wonderful colleague and a wonderful University citizen. He was always focused on the interests, needs, and the development of the faculty.”

Kulkarni holds two Bachelor of Science degrees and an M.S. in mathematics from Clarkson University. He has also received a M.S. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Before his tenure as dean of the faculty, Kulkarni served as head of Butler College from 2004 to 2012, director of the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education from 2011 to 2014, and dean of the graduate school from 2014 to 2017.

As part of the University President’s cabinet and the academic planning group, the dean of the faculty is responsible for supporting faculty in their dual roles as researchers and instructors. The dean regularly discusses faculty concerns with the president and collaborates with the president and provost on academic initiatives. The dean is also a member of other bodies, like the Faculty Advisory Committee on Appointments and Advancements and the Trustees’ Academic Affairs Committee.


“[Dean of the faculty] is a huge job to take on,” Prentice explained, “because you're not just the faculty’s go-to person for issues in their careers and their experiences of Princeton, but you're also working as part of the administration to oversee academic programs, and the faculty's role in them, more generally.”

The University has formed a search committee to select Kulkarni’s successor. The committee will be chaired by Prentice, with members including Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Gould; Professor of Economics Bo Honoré; Professor of History and African American Studies Tera Hunter; Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Pedro Meira Monteiro; Professor of Physics Lyman Page; and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Catherine Peters.

As dean of the faculty, Kulkarni established the Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows Program, which seeks to improve diversity at the University by providing support for early-career researchers who belong to historically underrepresented groups such as racial/ethnic minorities and women.

Kulkarni introduced new ranks of “University lecturer” and “professor of the practice,” which aid in the promotion process of those faculty members whose primary specialty does not lie within academic research. He was also responsible for facilitating the efforts to revamp the University’s academic calendar. Most notably, he oversaw moving the fall exam period from the end of January to December, aligning the University with its peer institutions.

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this story did not include comment from Dean Kulkarni. The story has been updated to add Kulkarni's email statement to the ‘Prince.’ The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.