Divisional Dean Search Continues

At least three academics from outside Harvard have been considered for the new Faculty deanship to steer the administration of the life sciences, according to speculation among biology professors.

And it has been rumored in recent months that two of those candidates for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) post have rejected Harvard’s overtures.

At the beginning of August, Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby initiated a nationwide search for a divisional dean of the life sciences. The search began after Kirby named deans for the humanities, physical sciences and social sciences. Kirby, in the meantime, installed an executive committee of nine professors to oversee curricular and physical planning across the life science departments.

Professor of Biology George V. Lauder ’76 and Tarr Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology Markus Meister said they heard three candidates have interviewed at Harvard, and that they were uncertain of the search’s status.


“I have heard rumors that the search committee has stalled somehow,” Meister said.

Though Kirby and the members of the search committee have refused to disclose the names of the candidates under consideration—even to other life sciences professors—it seems that two Californians might have been vying for the job.


Meister said the names of Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley and Gerald F. Joyce of the Scripps Institute have floated around the Harvard departments, adding that he did not have any official confirmation.

Lauder speculated that the committee has begun talks with others, but said he did not know any details.

“I think that they may have interviewed three [candidates]. I don’t know who is left or how many are active,” Lauder said.

Schekman, a professor of molecular and cellular biology, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences acclaimed for his research on protein formation in multi-celled organisms.

Schekman declined to say whether he was offered the post, and said he intended to remain at Berkeley.

“I have been here for 27 years and am very happy here,” he said.

He added that Harvard Medical School offered him a post six years ago, but that he turned it down because of his “very strong feeling about public education” and his attachment to Berkeley.

Joyce is the principal investigator of a laboratory at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, Calif. His laboratory researches evolution at the molecular level.

Joyce also declined to comment on the dean search.

“I plan to stay at Scripps,” he said, adding that he does not have any serious involvement with the search at Harvard. He would neither confirm nor deny that he was offered the post.