Smith Assembles Committee To Find GSAS Dean

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith has convened an advisory committee to begin the search for a new permanent dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Since Allan M. Brandt’s decision in February to step down from the position due to health concerns, the advisory committee—which includes faculty from both FAS and the professional schools who have been involved in graduate education—has already met several times, according to FAS spokesperson Paul B. Massari.

Still, those with knowledge of the proceedings have remained tight-lipped about the search process. And many faculty members—including a number of directors of graduate studies—said they do not know who is on the committee, nor how many times it has met.


“In terms of progress reports, the committee is still very much in the information gathering stage,” Massari wrote in an email.

But he added that the committee has also begun to consider nominations submitted by Administrative Dean of GSAS Margot Gill, the FAS academic deans, the deans of Harvard’s professional schools, and other members of the community.


“We’re going to try to get this done as quickly as possible,” Smith said, although he added that no deadline has been set for announcing the new appointment.

Armed with input from across the University, Smith said that FAS has chosen not to hire an external search firm to assist in finding a new dean. Instead, Smith said, the committee is relying mostly on internal expertise to appoint Brandt’s successor from within Harvard’s own ranks.

“We’re looking for someone who recognizes that our Ph.D. program is broader than just at the graduate school,” Smith said. “And we’re looking for someone who looks out for the graduate students and what their needs are.”

Brandt announced that he would step down almost two months ago in an email addressed to his colleagues in GSAS. While he does plan to return to teaching as soon as possible, he will not resume his role as dean, according to Smith.

“We miss Allan Brandt terribly and we wish him the best. He did an incredible job as the Dean of GSAS and he’s a model of the person who we would like to come to GSAS,” Smith said.

—Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at

—Staff writer Kevin J. Wu can be reached at