Bio Undergoes Mitosis
Like a cell undergoing mitosis, the Biology Department will soon divide.
A special committee formed last spring by Dean Rosovsky to investigate the department recommended in a report released this week that Biology be split into two departments-organismic and evolutionary biology (OEB) and cellular and developmental biology (CDB).
The creation of distinct departments is, to some extent, a formal recognition of a condition that has existed for about ten years, since the Biology Department split into two faculties.
Since then, each area has made its own faculty appointments, effectively functioning in that respect as distinct departments.
The split will have little immediate effect on undergraduates because the single concentration in Biology will remain intact.
The report states, "We think these concentrations (Biology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, currently separate majors) should not undergo further division or specialization." Several Biology professor said this week they were committed to maintaining the single concentration in Biology.
To coordinate biological studies, the review panel suggested naming an associate dean of the Faculty to administer a new Division of Biological Sciences, which will include the two new departments and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
The report left ambiguous the role of the new dean and division, stating only that it depends "in large measure on the dean's ability to achieve consensus and on the willingness of the faculty to cooperate responsibly."
Whether that cooperative spirit will materialize is still unclear to some professors.
One of the issues which may test the effectiveness of the new administrative structure is the use of biological laboratory and office space. CDB and OEB both want a substantial chunk of the biology labs soon to be vacated when the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology fully moves into its new facilities.
The report left the question unresolved, many Biology professors said this week, by dumping it into the lap of the new associate dean.
"The key to the report seems to be flexibility," David Dressler, lecturer on Biochemistry and Biology (CDB), said Thursday. "It left innumerable options open with respect to the extent of cooperation between the committees of professors," he added.