No one ever said dean of the Faculty would be an easy job.
But for the man often called the busiest person at Harvard, taking the reins of the several hundred-member Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) might prove particularly burdensome.
Henry Rosovsky, of course, is no stranger to the job. As dean of the Faculty for more than a decade, Rosovsky is credited with founding Harvard's Core Curriculum. After a six-year absence, he returns this year to University Hall, replacing economist A. Michael Spence, who left this summer to become dean of Stanford University's business school.
Rosovsky is Harvard's consummate jack of all trades. As Geyser university professor, he teaches a popular Core course, Historical Studies A-14, "Tradition and Transformation in East Asian Civilization: Japan." He is also a member of the Corporation, Harvard's seven-member governing body.
And while Rosovsky plays a major role in the search for the University's next president, the school also looks to him for continuity, hoping he can smooth the transition to a new administration.
So under makeshift circumstances, Rosovsky makes his second appearence in the Faculty dean's office--a move he himself admits is an unforeseen twist in his extensive academic career.
The faces in University Hall are familiar for the most part, and his cabinet of advisors, mostly appointed under Spence, will help bear some of Rosovsky's hefty workload. Rosovsky expresses confidence in his academic deans, saying he would "delegate rather more than several years ago."
Sitting in his new office, the new acting dean does not look the part of the overworked administrator. After a two-week vacation in Cape Cod and an uneventful transition, Rosovsky appears well-rested and seems undaunted by the task ahead.
Although acknowledging that he is in for "a very complicated year," Rosovsky has been taking things slowly.
"I haven't started meeting with people regularly," Rosovsky says of his academic deans. And indeed this low-anxiety approach is indicative of the administrator's intention to follow paths already laid.
"I want to to see to it that things keep progressing," he says.
But for someone like Rosovsky, inactivity should not be mistaken for lack of preparation. "Being a dean is like bicycle riding," he says.
"It's very familiar."