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Harvard Computer Science professor David C. Parkes will serve as the next dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi E. Hoesktra announced Tuesday.
The announcement concludes a monthslong search to find a permanent replacement for Francis J. Doyle, who announced in December that he would become the next provost of Brown University. Doyle’s tenure as SEAS dean concluded on June 30.
Parkes will start as the next head of SEAS on Oct. 15, per the announcement. Computer Science professor and former FAS Dean Michael D. Smith, who was named interim SEAS dean in May, will continue in the role until Parkes takes office.
Harvard President Claudine Gay called Parkes “an outstanding convener and connector” in an announcement published in the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication.
“His demonstrated ability to bring people together will enable SEAS—and Harvard—to identify challenges and opportunities emerging on rapidly changing horizons, and I look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead to advance our mission,” she said.
Parkes has been a faculty member at Harvard since 2001, specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning as a professor. Outside of teaching, Parkes served as SEAS area dean for Computer Science from 2013-17. He also founded the EconCS research group at the school and has co-directed Harvard’s Data Science Initiative since 2017.
Parkes has been elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and the Association for Computing Machinery. Parkes has also received the National Science Foundation Career Award, the Thouron Award, and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.
Parkes was also actively involved in the transition of SEAS to Allston, serving as the co-chair of the FAS/SEAS Committee on Allston and SEAS. Alongside two other faculty members, Parke helped design the Science and Engineering Complex in Allston, now home to SEAS.
As SEAS dean, Parkes will be tasked with working with a new president and FAS dean to support a rapidly changing area of research and education at the University. He will also face continued questions about racial and gender disparities among affiliates at the school.
In a statement for the Gazette, Parkes said he believes the school must broaden its “intellectual ambition around a few priority areas” through conversations with affiliates.
“This collaborative process is also one of the ways we can come together as a school and build a new narrative about who we are,” Parkes said. “Where should SEAS be leading? For me, artificial intelligence and sustainability jump out as two hugely important, technologically and scientifically deep, SEAS-spanning areas.”
Parkes said he also hopes the school can “forge new ties with industry, nonprofit organizations, and policy makers.”
“I also want to be very focused on community,” he said. “I want SEAS to be a welcoming place where everyone feels comfortable and at home — able to be their best, to learn, and to contribute knowledge.”
Hoesktra praised Parkes as not only a respected academic but also as a “beloved teacher, advisor, and mentor who invests in preparing the next generation of leaders.”
“He is a committed and insightful academic leader, experienced in addressing a broad range of opportunities and challenges facing SEAS, FAS, and the University,” she added.
—Staff writer Mert Geyiktepe can be reached at email@example.com.
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