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Buell's Leaving Raises Questions


Professor of English and American Literature Lawrence Buell will step down as dean of undergraduate education at the end of this semester.

But Buell's departure raises more questions than it answers.

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures William M. Todd III will begin a three-year term as dean of undergraduate education in July 1997.

Since Todd will be on sabbatical next year, Professor of the Social Sciences David Pilbeam will return to the post for the 1996-97 academic year. Pilbeam preceded Buell as dean of undergraduate education from 1987 to 1992.

Because Pilbeam will serve for only one year, his appointment raises questions about why Buell is not staying on for an additional year to smooth the transition between himself and Todd.

Most sources indicate that Buell has served in his post longer than he wanted to and he is eager to return to teaching.

Buell was appointed to a three-year term as dean in 1992. He has served as dean for four years, one year longer than he intended when he initially accepted the position. Buell will be on sabbatical next year.

"He graciously agreed to serve for a fourth year," says Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles. "He is due for a well-deserved leave."

Leaving University Hall will allow Buell to devote more time to his teaching.

"He'll enjoy the time to be a scholar again," says Susan W. Lewis, director of the Core program.

Buell sounds relieved to see his term as an administrator coming to an end.

"I had requested a year ago to return to the faculty upon completion of my three-year term," Buell says. "I put it off one year and that seemed like enough."

Although speculation has swirled that Buell may have stepped down because of a conflict with Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, Buell says that any charges are untrue.

Earlier this year, Buell said that he thought Lewis was a "proactive, highly organized and articulate individual," but stopped short of saying that Lewis had done a good job as dean of the College.

"I think he's given his all to the job, and I respect that," he said. "That's how I would phrase that."

But Buell says any such speculation is not true.

"I've not had any difficulties working with Dean Lewis," Buell says. "I think this is a case of The Crimson looking for an argument that isn't there."

"Working relations between the two of us have been cordial," Buell says. "Dean Lewis is an activist dean and that has had ripple effects within the student body. But there hasn't been anything that has made my job difficult."

Lewis similarly dismisses suggestion of any conflict.

"Dean Buell and I have worked very closely together in discussions of advising, situations of students in our classes, and the like," Lewis says.

"Our offices are only a few steps apart and there is a regular flow of information back and forth," he says. "I certainly hope and expect that kind of cooperation and teamwork to continue under Deans Pilbeam and Todd."

No matter the reason behind his departure, Buell leaves the post with high praise from his colleagues for his devotion to improving the way undergraduates are taught.

"I think he has done an excellent job as 'pedagogical conscience' to the Faculty," Pilbeam says.

"He's been particularly concerned about teaching in small groups and has worked hard in improving the training for teaching fellows," Lewis says.

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