Casey Named Associate Dean

Brian W. Casey, who recently arrived from Brown University, will set the current for faculty hiring as associate dean for academic affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Casey, who is a swim champion, fills the vacancy left by Vincent J. Tompkins, who departed for Brown in the fall.

“Brian Casey has a rich expertise in academic planning, faculty development, and the range of policies that support faculty life,” Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

Kirby has said he hopes to expand the Faculty, currently at nearly 700 professors, to 750 by 2010.

Since moving into his University Hall office—which is directly above Kirby’s—in early January, Casey has been involved in what he called an “aggressive” faculty recruiting season.

Even as his downstairs neighbor is preparing to move out of University Hall and University President Lawrence H. Summers is preparing to vacate Mass. Hall, Casey said the administrative exodus will not prevent him from bringing new faculty members to campus.

“It presents some challenges,” Casey said. “However, the act of selecting scholars, the act of appointing new colleagues is the work of the Faculty and they do the searching, and so I have a primary responsibility to be part of that process, and that’s going to go on, it has to go on.”

Casey said he is working with departments like Government, History, and Economics to develop multi-year planning tools for faculty searches, which currently occur on a year-to-year basis.

Casey said that he will also focus on developing new policies regarding junior faculty, in keeping with FAS efforts to improve junior faculty members’ opportunities for tenure.

“The institution has enacted a fairly significant way in which it understands the role and development of junior faculty,” Casey said, adding that he will help “make sure our policies reflect that institutional shift.”

Casey studied law at Stanford and received a Ph.D from FAS’ history department in 2000. At Brown University, he served as assistant dean for academic plannin before arriving in the Yard.

Casey said he learned at Brown that faculty involvement in the recruiting process is essential for successful faculty growth—a lesson that he said he hopes to bring to his new appointment.

“While it’s wonderful to expand the faculty, it’s actually quite hard to expand the faculty well,” he said.

After eight weeks at Harvard, Casey said he is impressed by the intensity of faculty recruitment, which he described as a “longer and much more arduous process” than that at Brown.

“The process by which the Faculty here scour internationally for opinions about rising scholars is an extremely intense and intensive process and the burdens that places on our Faculty is quite palpable,” Casey said. “I’m amazed by the seriousness and the energy that is brought to searching.”

Casey brings seriousness and energy to pursuits outside of University Hall as well as inside.

A national champion last year in three swimming events, Casey practices his butterfly stroke in Blodgett Pool at 5:30 a.m. every day.

“My days can be—at both Brown and Harvard—very intensive intellectually, politically, socially,” said Casey, who has been swimming since he was five. “It’s a nice balance to go to a pool and just be a swimmer.”

At the pool, Casey finds repose from his decanal duties.

“They just know me as Brian who is the butterflyer,” said Casey of his swimming pals. “And that’s a relief.”

—Staff writer Lulu Zhou can be reached at